New Research Forecasts HR’s Response to the War for Talent

In the Fight to Keep and Attract Top Talent, 96% of HR Agrees Reward & Recognition is Vital

BOSTON--()--A new study from global employee engagement company Reward Gateway has revealed the expectations and intentions of HR leaders and their employees in a post-pandemic world. The survey of 3,809 employees and senior HR decision-makers 1 across the UK, U.S. and Australia highlights employees’ plans to leave their current jobs, and calls out what HR leaders intend to do to keep them. The data suggests that the next 12 months will define how employers can balance healthy employee churn while attracting, retaining and engaging top talent.

Significant movement is predicted in the job market with 42% of employees surveyed reporting they are either currently looking for a new employer, or will be this year, and 66% of HR leaders reporting their companies are currently hiring. Nearly every HR manager surveyed (98%) agreed 2 that there are benefits to a healthy amount of employee churn, including “the ability to bring in new talent” (52%) and “an opportunity to enhance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) in [their] organization” (46%).

However, 88% of HR leaders 3 agree that attracting and keeping the right talent is critical in 2021. In order to manage unwanted turnover, employers should consider increasing reward and recognition, which 73% of employees planning to leave their current job reported would make them stay. HR leaders are in agreement 4 as 96% report that employee reward and recognition is vital to retaining and attracting employees.

Employers seeking to prevent significant turnover and attract, retain and engage top talent must also enhance their Employee Value Proposition to reflect what employees seek in a work environment. The research here revealed that after “fair pay” and “flexible working,” the following are top employee “must-haves” in 2021:

  • Employee reward and recognition
  • Trusted leadership
  • A manager who cares about their employees
  • A culture of open and honest communication
  • Financial, physical and mental wellbeing support

HR leaders seem to be aligned with employees, as 83% agree 5 that they will have to “adapt what [they] offer to employees as a company to attract and retain the best talent due to COVID-19,” with at least 80% planning to increase the amount of investment in the following areas:

  • Employee reward and recognition
  • Employee feedback surveys
  • Employee communications
  • Employee wellbeing

Coming off of a year that brought so much change, employees are seeking employers who will respond to their needs,” said Robert Hicks, Group HR Director, Reward Gateway. “While employee turnover isn't always negative – and often makes room for those who will bring new capabilities – it’s something employers must manage strategically in 2021 in order to maintain an engaged workforce. It’s clear that reward and recognition, open and honest leadership and wellbeing support will play a critical role in attracting and retaining talent over the next year.”

About Reward Gateway:

Reward Gateway helps more than 2,000 of the world’s leading companies, in 23 countries, to connect, recognize and support their best people with an employee engagement platform that brings employee benefits, discounts, recognition and reward, employee wellbeing, employee communications, and employee surveys into one unified hub. Clients include American Express, Unilever, Samsung, IBM, and McDonald’s. For more information, please visit

1 3,053 employees and 756 HR managers.
2 98% stat calculated by deducting the 2% who selected “I do not think there are benefits from a healthy amount of employee churn.”
3 Censuswide surveyed 756 18+ HR Managers and above in companies with 10+ employees in the U.S., UK and Australia between May 12-18, 2021 and 3,053 18+ employees in companies with 10+ employees in the U.S., UK and Australia with the following quotas: U.S.; minimum of 50 respondents in each U.S. region and a minimum of 50 in Boston. Australia; minimum of 50 respondents in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. UK; minimum of 50 respondents in each UK region between May 12-18, 2021.
4 Agreed stat calculated through combining “strongly agree” & “somewhat agree” answer totals.
5 Agreed stat calculated through combining “strongly agree” & “somewhat agree” answer totals.


Rachel Weeks