WorldatWork Survey: Employee Recognition Programs and Wellness Programs Increasingly Intersect

June 11, 2013 — SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — A WorldatWork and ITA Group survey report released today, “Trends in Employee Recognition 2013,” shows that for the first time in the survey’s 11-year history, programs to motivate specific behavior jumped to a top-tier goal, cited by 41% of organizations in 2013 vs. 25% in 2008.

“Employers are increasingly focusing their recognition programs on employee behaviors — for example, collaboration, teamwork, creativity and problem-solving — and are even expanding them to include health-related behaviors,” said Rose Stanley, CBP, recognition practice leader for WorldatWork.

While length of service, above-and-beyond performance and peer-to-peer recognition remain prevalent goals for recognition programs, the increase in organizations aiming to motivate behaviors marks the most notable change.

“Organizations, while not moving away from legacy recognition programs, are investing more in recognition programs that can drive business results,” Stanley said. “We are beginning to see a trend where wellness and recognition programs to motivate specific behaviors are starting to intersect. We expect this intersection to become more pronounced as a way to drive health-care costs down and increase productivity.”

This data is particularly timely as organizations review their wellness programs in light of the final rules recently released by the Obama administration governing employer-sponsored wellness plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The new rules give employers some degree of flexibility to design successful wellness plans within certain limits. Employers will need to familiarize themselves with the new rules as they design wellness plans or recognition plans with wellness incentives that take effect on or after Jan. 1, 2014.

“The 2013 data shows 70% of organizations offer between three and six different recognition programs, but the sustainable impact on both behaviors and the overall business varies across program types,” said Jaimee D. Chism, employee loyalty practice leader, ITA Group. “Smart organizations are leveraging recognition programs as agile and flexible tools to align employee behavior with what positively impacts their business today.”

Other key survey findings:
– Budgets: Organizations continue to budget for recognition programs at an average of 2% of payroll. Nearly 1 in 3 respondents said they budget exactly 1% of payroll. Recognition budgets are either centralized (39%), held in each department (17%) or split between the two areas (44%).
– Management support: 41% of respondents feel a high level of support for recognition programs from senior management, up from 37% in 2010. 46% believe senior management views recognition as an investment rather than an expense.
– Metrics: Organizations measure program success using: employee satisfaction surveys, participation rates, number of nominations, turnover, productivity, customer surveys and return on investment (ROI). Only 10% of organizations measure ROI on their recognition programs.

About the Survey
WorldatWork collected survey data in February 2013. There were 471 responses in the final data set. Survey respondents were WorldatWork members employed in the HR, compensation and benefits departments of mostly large U.S. organizations. 51% are from the private sector and 49% are from the public sector or are nonprofits.

The 30-page study also covers:
– Recognition for international/global employees
– Recognition strategy/objectives
– Media communication of recognition programs
– Training for managers about recognition programs
– Types of recognition awards
– Perceived workforce effect of recognition awards
– Recognition programs by organization size and type
– Recognition programs and voluntary turnover rates.

About WorldatWork(R)
The Total Rewards Association

WorldatWork ( is a nonprofit human resources association for professionals and organizations focused on compensation, benefits, work-life effectiveness and total rewards — strategies to attract, motivate and retain an engaged and productive workforce. WorldatWork and its affiliates provide comprehensive education, certification, research, advocacy and community, enhancing careers of professionals and, ultimately, achieving better results for the organizations they serve. WorldatWork has more than 65,000 members and subscribers worldwide; 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies employ a WorldatWork member. Founded in 1955, WorldatWork is affiliated with more than 70 local human resources associations and has offices in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.

WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals(R) is the certifying body for six prestigious designations: the Certified Compensation Professional(R) (CCP(R)), Certified Benefits Professional(R) (CBP), Global Remuneration Professional (GRP(R)), Work-Life Certified Professional(R) (WLCP(R)), Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP)(TM) and Certified Executive Compensation Professional (CECP)(TM).

The WorldatWork group of registered marks also includes: Alliance for Work-Life Progress or AWLP, workspan and WorldatWork Journal.

About ITA Group
ITA Group creates and manages events, incentives and recognition programs that align and motivate your people. In 2013, ITA Group celebrates 50 years of driving passion and performance in organizations.

ITA Group is located in West Des Moines, Iowa, and also has operations in Atlanta, Boca Raton, Fla., Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco and the greater New York City area.

Visit to learn more.

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