Employee rewards

18 Nov 2021

Employee rewards proven to engage, motivate and boost loyalty

According to Dr. Ashley Whillans, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, “What really matters in the workplace is helping employees feel appreciated.”

Employee reward schemes are a great way to achieve this goal. Our researchinto the emotions that employees feel after receiving a reward or recognition found that:

  • 75% said that employee rewards made them feel valued
  • 75% said that employee rewards made them feel like the company cares about them
  • And, incentive programmes can increase employee performance by 44%

To help you plan an effective employee rewards strategy for your business, this guide provides an overview of the moments you can (and should) reward staff for certain behaviours, as well as a rundown of the best rewards to give employees to spark their interest.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we’ll uncover the many benefits of rewarding employees – both for them and for your continued business growth.

What are the best types of employee rewards?

With 77% of employees saying they would work harder if they felt better recognised, it’s never been more important to reward employees. To help you build a strong and successful employee rewards initiative that is both inclusive and company-wide, here are some of the most popular – and effective – reasons to recognise and reward staff that have been proven to see a return.

It’s not always possible to reward every single positive behaviour in the workplace, however the more reasons you can identify to recognise and thank your staff, the more reasons they’ll have to feel engaged and proud to be your employee.

Performance-based rewards

One of the most common reasons for rewarding staff is to show your appreciation for their hard work. Acknowledging that staff members have gone above and beyond and that their actions have led to business success is a great way to encourage and motivate them to keep up the high performance.

A successful employee rewards strategy is to incentivise staff by rewarding them little and often. For example, you can reward staff as and when they complete small projects, when they reach (or exceed) a business objective or sales target, or exhibit great customer service. In addition, a sales incentives programme can be used to motivate teams by rewarding different stages of the sales process, such as closing deals and generating new leads.

Recognise individual achievements

As well as rewarding teams for achieving larger, long-term goals and targets, don’t overlook the importance of handing out employee rewards to individuals for successfully completing their day-to-day duties.

Acknowledge milestones

So far, we’ve discussed performance-based employee rewards, but another area to include in your rewards strategy is personal and professional milestones. There’s no better way to show staff how much you value them (and gain their loyalty and trust) than by giving them a small gesture to celebrate long service, Christmas, or personal occasions such as birthdays or to welcome a new addition to their family.

Wellbeing initiatives

Introducing a strategic employee health and wellbeing programme with a choice of rewards and incentives can help turn healthy behaviours into healthy habits. As well as making employees feel valued and appreciated, wellness rewards can also motivate staff to feel happier and be more productive in the workplace.

Instant recognition

It’s easy to think of employee rewards as incentives that are earned over time. Yet they can also be a great way of recognising impromptu employee excellence. For example, if a member of staff has a great day at work, an on-the-spot reward won’t just boost their morale but also inspire other members of the team to work towards earning their own instant reward.

For this reason, many businesses choose to buy bulk gift cards so they are always equipped to deliver unplanned employee rewards as and when needed. To find out more, here’s our guide to the benefits of buying gift cards in bulk.

Safety rewards

In a time of COVID and other worldwide viruses, following health and safety protocols at work has never been more important. Offering employee rewards for staff who continue to follow the rules and regulations is a good way of developing a safe working environment and encouraging staff to follow best practice.

Company culture recognition

Having a strong company culture can help to attract and retain top talent. A great way to embed your culture, promote desired behaviours – particularly in new recruits – and incentivise everyone to follow your business values and practices is to reward employees whose performance best aligns with your business.

What are good employee rewards?

When it comes to the different types of employee rewards, they’re not all created equally. There is no easy one-size-fits-all answer. Some rewards will have more impact on your staff and your business than others – and it’s about finding out what works best for your workforce.

To help you create the perfect employee reward strategy, here’s an overview of some of the most popular ways to reward and recognise your staff. These ways work particularly well with a diverse workforce. However, if you have the capacity to tailor rewards to be more personal, the benefits you’ll reap will be much higher.

Unforgettable experiences

Rewarding employees with memorable experiences will help them associate the positive moment with your business. It also helps to create an emotional experience that can’t be achieved through other rewards, such as a bonus. Another benefit of experiences is that employees are more likely to tell others about them and be left with a lasting memory.

Our Envy Experience packages include a wide variety of hand-picked experiences such as short breaks, family days out, and relaxing spa sessions. In fact, there are over 5,000 real-life experiences to choose from to suit all budgets, including environmentally friendly options, and the experience vouchers can include a personalised message.

Physical rewards

Whether it’s a trophy, framed certificate, or plaque, recognising staff with a physical reward that can be put on display can leave a lasting impression. Choosing to present the reward in front of others is a public show of recognition in itself, and having the physical reward on display is a constant reminder to the member of staff that their efforts have been rewarded. This can also motivate others to step up their game in the hopes of receiving their own physical employee reward.

VIP rewards

When employees have done something special, it’s a great excuse to treat them to something special. This could include upgrading them to business class on their next company trip, giving them a night away at a plush hotel regularly used by your business, or letting them use a luxury car for the weekend. Quite simply, treating them like a VIP will help them feel very important and appreciated by your business.

Unexpected rewards

Research has shown that good surprises boost memories of specific events. That’s why surprising team members with out-of-the-blue employee rewards can have a long-term positive impact. The reward doesn’t even need to be high-cost. In a digital age of emails and instant messaging, a hand-written note from a superior or line manager can be priceless when it comes to making an employee feel special.

Give employees a choice

Our research found that employees prefer to receive reward cards ten times more than office parties and over two-thirds of UK employees would rather receive a gift card from their employer over any other gift.

That’s because six out of 10 consumers in the UK prefer the freedom of shopping for themselves with a gift card, rather than having someone else choose something for them. After all, everyone is different. What is right for one employee will be mismatched to another. Providing them with a pre-paid gift card allows them to effectively choose their own reward.

A great gift card option that’s suitable for employees of all ages is One4all. This multi-brand gift card can be used in over 140 popular retailers for dining out, fashion and beauty, entertainment and leisure, and home and garden.

Our Blackhawk Network OnDemand service aims to make this purchasing process simple and fast. Simply let us know what cards you want, how much value to add to each card and we can also customise them with your company logo and branding too (if you wish).

What are the benefits of rewarding employees?

The good news is there’s a lot of research that shows the benefits of rewarding employees and making them feel appreciated.

Benefits to employees

Employee recognition can…

An effective employee reward programme isn’t only good for your existing employees. It can also help you to attract top talent in a competitive market. One study found that the more benefits a business includes in their job ads, the more applications they receive, and 32% of employees say that employee benefits are as equally important to them as salary.

Benefits to business

Rewarding employees…

According to Dr. Ashley Whillans, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, rewarding employees works because it taps into three psychological needs:

  • Autonomy: employees want the freedom to choose how to complete their work
  • Competence: employees want to appear competent with the required skills to perform
  • Belonging: employees want to socially connect with colleagues in a meaningful way

Once these needs are met, employees feel more engaged and motivated and are less likely to want to leave their job.

Whether it’s to show on-the-spot recognition, acknowledge personal milestones, or recognise above-and-beyond performance, employee rewards are an instant and easy way to show employee appreciation.

As a global leader in on-demand rewards with over 28,000 business clients, we’re perfectly placed to help your employees feel appreciated with a game-changing reward programme.

To discover the Blackhawk Network difference, get in touch today on 020 4517 5862.

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