Employee Experience Trends – 2021

As the pandemic spread around the world, many companies faced a severe challenge: “work” as we knew it had to pivot, shift, and adapt. What had been a lovely snug plan for the future when everything was gleaming became a plan for the present when remote work, flexible scheduling, and all kinds of program adjustments needed to happen practically immediately—and these changes needed to become more permanent faster than anyone expected.

Many of us have been watching with bated breath (or trepidation, depending on your point of view) as 2020 continues to present the world with difficult situations. It may go without saying that the issues we’ve faced have had an impact on us as individuals, but what may be less obvious is how work, workplace culture, and employee experience have changed as a result of these obstacles, and how they will continue to evolve as we move forward.

Instead of considering employee recognition as a pleasant bonus or a birthday card, many companies now regard it as a lifeline for keeping employees engaged—and many recognize the urgent need for a holistic approach to employee experience that encompasses much more than a yearly bonus or a birthday card. Employee experience is more essential than it has ever been, and the trends we’ve witnessed over the previous year only serve to reinforce this notion.

Remote work & recognition:

In the previous decade, many organizations have begun to provide remote work as a bonus, but current conditions have made it a need for many. Even after the epidemic has passed and a vaccine has been developed, remote work is expected to continue in the future, either as a combination of office and remote work or as entirely remote employment.

There’s no denying that remote work is here to stay and will continue to develop in a variety of industries. Whether your workforce is remote or in-person, it’s critical to use every tool at your disposal to boost engagement and improve employee experience—and rewarding recognition is one of the best. In fact, we’ve seen firms with over 10,000 employees raise their recognitions in the previous year, demonstrating the importance of recognition in keeping teams together, encouraging individuals, and fostering workplace culture regardless of location.

Personalized rewards & recognition:

Employees demand a good amount of choice and simplicity in their employee benefits in 2021, and more employers are coming on to that idea as well. Companies should offer the same boundless choice and instant availability that employees enjoy outside of work, rather than a limited inventory of highly marked-up things. That holds true for service awards as well, despite the fact that they have more strict tax compliance requirements.

The ability to choose their own rewards using a familiar experience like Amazon is becoming a competitive advantage that firms are increasingly utilizing. By providing employees with the same amount of choice and convenience, firms demonstrate that they care about them enough to let them choose—and when employees feel cared for, they care even more. 

Employee rewards as compensation:

We’ve coined the term “reward compensation” to describe a tendency that will become increasingly relevant in the future. Employees are given an additional bonus on top of their wage that they can use for their own incentives. Employee awards can (and should) be part of compensation rather than a beautiful fluffy bonus or addendum to existing workplace compensation, which excites us. We’ve seen some companies shift their mindsets toward rewards & recognition as a part of compensation rather than a bonus, and it’s a fascinating trend to watch.

Flexible work policies:

The trend of remote work will continue, but it will be supplemented with flexible work practices that allow employees to do their tasks on their own time. If employees require a more condensed schedule with alternating days on and off, companies can gain an advantage over their competitors by providing such a flexible work strategy. Work will continue to be completed as employees rebalance their workloads while still finding time to coordinate their efforts with their coworkers.

Daily feedback becomes the norm:

Because work schedules will continue to be flexible, if not expand, everyday input will become even more important as teams synchronize their efforts. Feedback has always been a part of the job, but its value will only expand as time goes on.

These are just a few of the trends we may expect as we move forward into the future—and employee recognition will remain an important element of the future of work. Whatever the future holds, it’s critical to remember that organizations are made up of people, and the individuals who make up our organizations are where we may find the most strength. As we look ahead, remember to focus on the people, not just the procedure, and cultivate an appreciating culture that will withstand any storm.


Advantage Club is a global provider of employee benefits. The platform serves to digitize all employee demands under one canopy through numerous employee engagement programs such as incentives, rewards & recognition, flexible and tax-saving modules. It now serves over 300 organizations in 70 countries and has over 10,000 brand partnerships.

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