Online or offline recognition – Which is better?
Digitalization has been there for a long time, but it has seen rapid growth post the pandemic. A recent study by EY has shown that from 2020 to 2022, almost 63% of surveyed companies are on a digital transformation journey. Digitalization plays a vital role in business growth, and it has been stated that it can grow the GDP by 3-4%. Moreover, in the past years, HR technology has also seen significant adoption. Many companies are now moving towards adopting digital recognition platforms to keep their employees engaged and motivated. But apart from all the benefits it brings, digitalization also has its own de-merits from cybersecurity risks and data breaches.
Further, there has been a debate on what is more impactful, online or offline recognition. They both have their own set of pros and cons. But since the world is moving towards digital, offline ways of recognizing and rewarding employees are getting archaic. Digitizing the process of recognizing employees in the company has seen an uptick.
For many large companies, fostering a frequent recognition and appreciation culture becomes challenging. It gets overshadowed by the day-to-day challenges and targets in this challenging environment. Moreover, the bonuses and appraisals have their own cycles, which happen once a year. In this scenario, a digital recognition platform that allows top-to-down (Managers to Peers) and parallel (peer-to-peer) recognition helps an organization to create and make a culture where we can recognize and reward people frequently.
The dynamics of today’s workforce are varied. We have different kinds of employees. Some are working in the office, and some work remotely. Moreover, many companies also have deskless employees, such as the gig workforce and people working in the field. For instance, we have a field sales workforce in the pharma, FMCG, or insurance sector. They hardly get any face time with their colleagues and managers. They do not have fixed working hours too. Often, such employees feel left out or ignored. A digital recognition platform that facilitates virtual rewarding, appreciation, and community building helps an organization to include and engage such employees. On the other hand, physical recognition programs do not allow you to cover so many people at such a scale.
Today, we are constantly around digital products. Whether it’s shopping, paying bills, banking, ordering food, booking travel tickets or hotels, we all do it online. Everything has been digitized in today’s time. So, the new generation is exposed to digital experiences, and it has become a part of their everyday life. So why can’t we think about digitizing our R&R (Rewards & Recognition) system? It further adds to the digital experience of employees, and going forward, the new generation of genZ would prefer such systems over the archaic ones.
If we all remember, in 2020, when employees were asked to work remotely due to the spread of COVID-19, cybersecurity breaches and threats were one of the top challenges for the CIOs (Chief Information Officers) and the organizations. For that matter, digitizing the R&R system would also involve sharing internal data, which poses a threat. Moreover, there is also a risk of misinformation and an overload of information when we digitize any process in the company.
People make the mistake of keeping transactional relationships with colleagues at the workplace. Digitizing the R&R system can further pose a challenge where people may not enhance relationships. Let’s imagine that it’s your work anniversary. Digital R&R platforms have features where you can celebrate and wish your colleagues on their birthdays and anniversaries. You will feel good when people send you congratulatory messages on the platform or give you digital badges. You will feel even better when someone sends you a personal message or gives you a call, but when someone comes and greets you personally, that is the best feeling. So, such personal gestures and physical meetings are always better than congratulatory messages over social media.
Going back in time, when employees were working remotely, what was the biggest challenge for HR? Yes, building cohesiveness among employees. Companies were still hiring during the pandemic, but the new hires found it difficult to develop better relationships since they had never seen their colleagues. So, physical recognition allows more face time with colleagues and managers. Congratulating someone on a video call or on a intra social media platform and personally greeting someone is different. So, digital R&R platforms may not help companies in team building.
Receiving congratulatory notes or messages makes you feel good, whether offline or online. But that feeling is unmatchable when someone organizes an event or creates a special moment for you. For instance, the feeling is amazing if an employee receives an award or trophy for good work in front of his colleagues. Unfortunately, it is challenging to replicate that feeling through digital means.
In large organizations with over a thousand employees, it is challenging to recognize employees at a scale and that too frequently. Moreover, employees working remotely, the gig workforce, and employees working in the field feel left out, too.
Many offline recognition programs tend to follow a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. But it does not work. Digital R&R platforms allow flexible benefits and perks. For instance, the Advantage Club perks platform offers brands and services from different categories, such as shopping, entertainment, well-being, education, etc. One can avail of special discounts on various products of choice. This gives flexibility to the organization and the employees to choose and offer what perks they want.
As mentioned above, digital and offline recognition has advantages and disadvantages. For all-round satisfaction and a solid R&R strategy, organizations must keep a blend of offline and digital recognition. This way, companies and HRs can cater to their diverse workforce’s different needs and preferences.