Five Top Tips to Building Your Rewards Program for Today’s Workforce

10 Aug 2021

“Business as usual” feels like a distant memory. In addition to the upheaval of what used to constitute normal workflows before the COVID pandemic, people have also experienced changes in where they do their work.

New research found that 63% of Americans surveyed are working virtually right now*—many for the first time. And working from home is likely more than just a temporary situation; it’s here to stay for some time or even a permanent reality as companies pivot toward recovery.

Check out our infographic How to Build a Rewards Program for Today’s Workforce for five practical, research-based ideas that can be:

  • Implemented immediately
  • Tailored to your workforce
  • Customized and personalized

As our world gets smaller and increasingly digitized, motivating your employees from afar in the ways they want will be a major competitive differentiator.

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Five Top Tips to Building Your Rewards Program for Today’s Workforce

1. Lean on rewards and incentives

When employees surveyed were asked how they wanted their employers to engage them when working from home, the number one choice was to receive rewards and incentives—not online chats, virtual luncheons or video conference meetings.

Give the rewards they want

There’s a time and place for t-shirts and trophies, but of the remote workers surveyed*, a whopping 84% want rewards in the form of prepaid and gift cards. These cards are extremely versatile and give employees a chance to treat themselves or buy something they need.

The same research* also found that of the employees surveyed:

  • 74% said it was important to receive incentives and rewards from their company.
  • Most would be encouraged to work harder after receiving gift card rewards and feel these rewards show that their employer values them.

2. Go digital

People want prepaid and gift cards, and both come in digital form—enabling employers to deliver them within minutes. Nearly half of employees surveyed even prefer digital rewards to physical ones*.

With so many people shopping online or via mobile devices, virtual prepaid and eGift cards offer an easy method of payment from the comfort of home.

Cultivate an engaging virtual culture

Employees working from home can miss small interactions and socialization with co-workers on a day-to-day basis.

Mobilize your rewards program

Encourage virtual team-building activities, like lunches and after-hours cooking or book clubs.

PRO TIP: Provide participants with eGifts to support their endeavors. For example, cooking club recipients can use their gift card to buy a cookbook or ingredients for a recipe they want to try making over Zoom together.

3. Tailor to your workforce

Reach your employees where it’s easiest for both of you. Whether your workforce is comprised of essential personnel on the frontlines, working from home or returning to the office, you can still build a rewards program they will all love.

PRO TIP: Digital rewards can be an ideal choice for remote employees, while offering a variety of restaurant, food delivery and fuel gift cards could go a long way in welcoming employees back to the office.

Recognize the individual

Employees want to be viewed and valued as individuals, with incentives that acknowledge their unique contributions.

Don’t forget about presentation

Virtual ceremonies can go a long way in recognizing individual successes and avoiding isolation while working remotely.

PRO TIP: Personalize employee rewards by including the recipient’s name and brief message such as ‘GREAT JOB’ on a Mastercard® or Visa® Prepaid Card that can be cobranded with your company’s logo. Or, deliver a merchant gift or eGift with a personalized message.

4. Don’t forget holiday rewards

Now’s the time to look ahead at holiday reward options for your employees. Rewards that stand out among the sea of fruit baskets, popcorn tins and mundane swag is a tall order.

A reward that never gets returned

Ordering one-size-fits all gifts won’t provide the personal touch that helps drive year-long loyalty and engagement. Once again, prepaid and gift cards can provide the solution to these challenges without taking the entire year to plan.

Include personalization

Add your company logo, recipient name and holiday message for that personal touch. Rewards can be mailed directly to recipients or sent to you for in-person delivery.

PRO TIP: Mastercard and Visa holiday-themed prepaid cards and matching greeting card carrier designs are available to ensure your rewards are always in season.

5. Keep an eye on the horizon

Work-from-home arrangements may be here to stay and engaging an active online workforce spread out geographically will be important to maintain company culture and productivity.

The right rewards and incentives help drive loyalty and positively influence behaviors that directly contribute to the bottom line, which also helps reduce expensive turnover. Recent research* found that receiving a reward from an employer would increase 84% of employees’ loyalty to a company.

*The “Receiving Incentives and Rewards from Your Employer” study was an internet-based study conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of Blackhawk Network between March 24–25, 2020. The sample size included 1,718 working U.S. employees ages 18–60.


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