Guy Malk, chief marketing officer with St Regis Group, the largest supplier of awards, recognition, and corporate giftware products in the industry, shares his take on the state of employee recognition.
As the pandemic hit full force at the end of Q1, 2020, we in the recognition industry witnessed a sudden change with corporate galas, award ceremonies and events getting postponed or cancelled outright.
While some organizations opted to hold their events virtually, others decided to wait it out, hoping in vain to still hold an in-person event. As the pandemic continued to roll through North America, it slowly became evident that this was simply not going to be possible. While this was concerning for us to say the least, we could start to see a positive trend forming by mid-year.
Corporate recognition is very rarely a one-time event, and awards are often handed out quarterly or annually. By late summer, we were starting to get confirmations that many of our long-standing award programs were going to take place virtually, a promising sign in an otherwise bleak year.
It was encouraging to see that while North America was reeling with the pandemic and corporations were facing unprecedented difficulties, there was a clear understanding that employee recognition was as important as ever. With large layoffs, both temporary and permanent, and the isolation experienced by working in a ‘home office’, it is imperative for employers to do all they can to keep up employee morale and encourage their teams to persevere through these difficult times.
Another encouraging trend we’ve seen is the creative use of unconventional recognition items, such as drinkware and barware gifts, personalized with messages of appreciation and encouragement normally reserved for awards. With corporate parties and events cancelled or postponed, employers are looking for creative and budget-friendly ways to recognize their hard- working and dedicated teams. Miniature crystal desktop awards have been a huge hit in Q4 as companies look for ways to recognize each and every one of their employees, not only their top achievers or star performers.
While awards and recognition, as a category in the promotional marketplace, has fared better than most others, the new reality we find ourselves in does not come without its challenges. One of which is the administrative burden of suddenly having to facilitate a large influx of drop-ship orders. As recipients were now receiving their awards, trophies and corporate gifts directly to their homes, the demands on our order processing, production and shipping departments has increased significantly. While this presented its difficulties, we were also heartened to see firsthand and be reminded of the importance of working in this wonderfully rewarding industry.
Overall, the outlook for the awards and recognition industry is promising. With a strong first quarter now leading the way to a recovering economy, we are optimistic about the future of awards and recognition and expect to see a record number of corporate events, galas and ceremonies in the coming year.
Guy Malk has been the chief marketing officer for the St Regis Group for the last 8 years and has been with the company since 2005.
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