Aug 20, 2020

How to improve employee engagement using digital rewards

Employee smiles at screen as he receives digital reward

In March this year, most UK workers were forced to work from home as offices across the country closed. In a matter of days the entire nation was thrown into a new working environment and companies were pressed to navigate how their employees could work remotely through the pandemic.

Fast forward five months and almost half of the UK workforce are still working from home. Despite the government encouraging offices to open from 1 August only a third of workers have returned to the office so far. This has left many companies having to rethink their business model, taking into consideration the different locations of their workforce – whether they’re in the office, at home or both.

Improve your employee engagement using digital rewards

The new remote-working environment requires new engagement strategies

With the new way of working, employee communications, engagement and motivation strategies will be rewritten and adapted to the new online and virtual culture.
While studies show a large percentage of employees are benefiting from a better work/life balance at home, employee engagement levels have dropped. The figure doesn’t come as a surprise as employees are adjusting from seeing and interacting with colleagues most days of the week, to being thrown into a solo working environment. Not forgetting the added emotional pressures and anxiety that comes with facing a worldwide pandemic.
Peter Dando, Sales Director at Blackhawk Network commented on the subject.
Keeping your workforce engaged while all in different locations isn’t an easy task. In an office where we’re conversing regularly with our peers, saying thank you or well done becomes part of day-to-day discussions.
Now that many more people are working remotely, both social and public recognition can be overlooked. Because of this, it’s important to look for alternative ways to recognise employees so they stay motivated and engaged.

Digital rewards will be the future for employee engagement

Rewards are used widely across industries to support employee engagement. And while digital rewards are not new, the need for recognition strategies to be digitalised will become increasingly important.
Gone are the days when a Manager can walk up to a member of staff and thank them for their hard work with a hand shake. Businesses will have to introduce new practises to adapt to a more ‘contactless’ way of behaving – including how they recognise employees.
Digital rewards will become the solution for most recognition challenges as they can be instant, require no handling of items, and are environmentally-friendly and sustainable.
Coupled with cashless and contactless ways of making purchases on the rise (quicker than predicted), there will be a demand for rewards that can be spent online or via a mobile and smart phone wallet.

How to use digital rewards for employee engagement

Digital rewards provide businesses with a hassle-free way of sending recognition rewards and messages virtually. Once the digital reward has been sent, employees can access, interact and use their recognition via their mobile phone, tablet or smart watch.
Blackhawk Network’s Sales Director, Peter Dando shares his advice on how best to use digital rewards to sustain employee engagement:

Recognise often

Recognising staff for hard work, dedication and commitment should be carried out on a weekly basis – especially during uncertain times. Businesses that successfully create a rewarding culture week-on-week will find their employees feel appreciated and their engagement levels will be high.
Weekly rewards work well when given out on the same day, as it offers stability and structure for employees. It also makes your rewarding process transparent. Fridays are always a good time to thank employees as they’ll positively down tools for the weekend, and come back on Monday motivated and ready to work.
On-the-spot recognition should be incorporated into your rewards culture too. If an employee achieves an outstanding result, take the opportunity to recognise it there and then. Leave it too late and the impact of the reward will be lost.

Keep rewards under £50

Feedback from our clients, as well as decades of experience, confirms that rewarding little and often is the best strategy to keep employees engaged. Employees respond well to positive feedback that’s given regularly, and a small gesture is enough to boost their morale.
The value of your rewards should be between £5 and £50. For the lower end you could give your employees a coffee or lunch on you, and the top end could allow employees to purchase a new item of clothing or gadget they’ve had their eye on. Keeping your rewards under £50 means your business will also gain from HMRC’s non-taxable trivial benefit too.

Publicise the recognition

It’s important to share and celebrate recognition news with other colleagues as this supports employee engagement.
Tell the rest of your company when an employee has been rewarded by sharing the information across your internal communication platforms. By announcing the recognition, you’ll not only make that employee feel even more special, but it’ll encourage peers to perform well too.

Listen to what your employees have to say

The nation has been quickly thrown into a new remote-workforce era, which means there’s no experience or data to confirm what employee engagement strategies work. And more importantly, what strategies don’t work.
Because of this, it’s crucial you gain regular feedback from your workforce to find out how they’re feeling, how they’re coping with their new environment, how engaged they are and what improvements your business could make to improve their situation.
Once the feedback has been gained you must then act on it. If your employees understand their voices are heard, your business will gain a huge amount of their respect and in turn, loyalty.

What digital rewards does my business need?

There are many types of digital rewards available, and no doubt more will be launched to meet the new digital demand.
When considering which rewards to use for your business, it’s important to consider recognition that’s flexible, giving employees the freedom to choose their own prize. It’s also important to consider your employees’ journey with redeeming their reward. The journey needs to be seamless otherwise you could end up disengaging your staff.
Blackhawk Network's most popular digital rewards are:

One4all Digital Gift Card

Our multi-retailer gift card can now be added to an employees’ digital wallet where they can spend it instore or online with over 130 retailers. Employers can also send a personalised message or video with the reward.


Our Select platform allows employers to send unique digital codes to employees who can then redeem a retailer gift card or eGift of their choice. Select also enables you to create your own online reward catalogue for your workforce.

Virtual Prepaid Mastercard

Our Virtual Prepaid Mastercard is an online version of our prepaid reward card. Employees can now access their prepaid card via their mobile phone to spend in store and online.


eGifts are single or multi-retailer gift cards bought in bulk as eCodes. They are delivered digitally but offer flexibility as they can be spent online or in-store.
We’ve future-proofed our rewards for employee engagement by digitalising our offering to meet the needs of employees in the office and at home.

Get in touch with our experts to discuss how you can implement a digital reward strategy in your business today. Fill in the contact form to your right or call us on 0207 419 8191.