Nov 11, 2021

Invigorate your company culture – why incentives for employees are the key to your company’s success

Incentives for employees, from Blackhawk Network

The most valuable asset of an organisation is its people. Keeping your workforce happy can ensure your company’s resilience during any crisis that might get thrown its way. But how do you keep your teams consistently happy and promote high levels of employee satisfaction? Is it culture? Is it financial rewards? Or is it an overall employee experience? We’re exploring the importance of incentives for employees on a company’s overall success.

What is an employee incentive?

According to Burak and Smith,

“An incentive scheme is a plan or programmes to motivate individuals for good performance.

An incentive is most frequently built on monetary rewards but includes a variety of non-monetary rewards or prizes.”


When it comes to employees, rewards and incentives in the workplace have benefits for both employees and employers. When recognising employees for their performance and productivity, it can improve morale, job satisfaction and motivation to support organisations in achieving their aims. Through workplace rewards and incentives for employees, employers and staff alike can enjoy a positive working environment and can go a long way in boosting productivity.

Just as an incentive can motivate you, offering your teams rewards can encourage them to work hard and grow, and more importantly, feel appreciated and recognised for their good work, and incentives are one way to show them that.

Which is why employee incentives and benefits are crucial to an organisation’s survival.

robust incentives programme can boost employee engagement levels and harness a complete wellness strategy within your business. It can showcase to your employees that you genuinely care about their wellbeing and can support in retaining talent. Happy and satisfied employees are more likely to work more efficiently, be more productive and take fewer sick days. 


Why are incentives for employees important?

More than 50 percent of all organisations globally struggle to retain their most valuable employees. Studies have shown that the average employee tenure is about four and a half years. This high turnover rate costs businesses huge sums of money every year, not just in replacing job roles, but also the disruption in training and development and losing key talent.

Although there are many reasons why employee turnover rates might be high for a company, low engagement levels, not having the right employee culture and lack of recognition are definitely key drivers for losing talent within your organisation.

Employee engagement isn’t just about communication, it’s about creating an outstanding culture where employees are motivated and enthusiastic about the prospect of coming to work. Although a change in culture doesn’t happen overnight and engagement can go through periods of highs and lows, business owners should embrace the steps necessary to focus on employee wellbeing.

There can be a number of reasons why employees might be disengaged. From a lack of opportunities to boredom or even a lack of office perks, disengaged employees have a very real impact on a company’s bottom line. Productivity within disengaged employees can be quite low, which can lead to negativity, which then has a knock-on effect on customers and colleagues alike. 

Simon Conington, MD of BPS World, cited in a survey on employee turnover trends and behaviours, “Employers are rightly appreciating that their staff need to enjoy what they do if they’re going to hang onto them, but there is a slight mismatch in what else they believe is important to their teams, versus what actually retains a talented staff member. It’s vital that they don’t rely on assumptions and encourage transparency and open conversations with their employees to foster a culture of loyalty and engagement within their business.”

This is where organisations really need to reflect on the bigger picture and understand what makes their people tick. With masses of employees now working remotely, the Pizza Fridays and office ping pong tables of old may not strike the right note in what employees are looking for now. An engaged and satisfied workforce, remote or otherwise, needs to resonate with the values and ethics of an organisation and employers must invest time, energy and money in understanding how to build such a culture.

In a study by Genesis Associates, 85% of the workers surveyed felt more motivated to do their best when they had an incentive. In theory, this increased motivation could lead to stronger employee retention, loyalty and engagement. In addition, 73% described the office atmosphere as "good" or "very good" during an incentive period. Good incentives for employees also increased a company's overall profits by almost £100,000 per week on average.

Which is why offering your employees incentives such as gift cards and experiences isn’t just a nice to have, it is vital to a company’s long-term growth and strategy.


The benefits a loyal workforce can offer your company:

  • Committed employees that are dedicated to the cause and willing to do whatever it takes to deliver great performance within their respective roles
  • Engaged employees that are happy and satisfied and because of this, they produce great ideas for your organisation, which can set you apart from your competition
  • Reduction in costs as employee turnover can reduce with involved and satisfied employees, alongside a more productive workforce that can lead to higher revenue and profit


According to Bain & Company, the best companies are 40% more productive than the rest, and have operating margins 30%-50% higher than their industry peers.

What this means is that taking the time to appreciate employees pays huge dividends on company performance indicators. Acknowledgment and recognition boosts employee engagement, which then increases productivity. When you add inspiring employees to do their best into the mix, productivity increases dramatically.

Although it is fair to say that incentives for employees alone cannot account entirely for an organisation’s success, but putting your people first is a key driver in how your employees perceive your company culture.

A prime example of encouraging a strong employee ethos is HubSpot. HubSpot took the top spot in Glassdoor’s 2020 Best Place to Work Awards, with its strategic and purposeful investments in culture, people and mission.

HubSpot first published their Culture Code in 2019, iterating their core values of HEART (humble, empathetic, adaptable, remarkable, transparent). In 2019, the company’s leadership team doubled down in two key areas: global inclusion and being mission focused.

“In just the past year, we set our first company-wide diversity goal, built out a dedicated team devoted to diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and launched a new and improved HubSpot Diversity Data Report to build on the work we had started over the past four years, and I think the results are resonating with our employees globally, though we still have a lot more work to do. Creating a culture of belonging is a constant work in progress.” Katie Burke, HubSpot’s Chief People Officer

HubSpot’s consistent drive to put its workforce at the centre of its company’s strategy has proven to be successful time and time again, and one that continues to attribute to the success of the organisation.


Providing the right incentives

While building a solid business culture and promoting employee engagement is important, there are many other incentives that can help keep employees stay motivated at your company.

Most workers need a bit more than a metaphorical pat on the back from their line manager to stay driven. That's why many employers implement employee incentive programmes to keep their staff engaged and working hard. These employee incentives can help you get more out of your team while keeping them inspired and happy.

Although employee incentive programmes can do wonders for a company's employee productivity, morale and retention, no two employees are exactly alike, so how do you curate a programme that can keep everyone happy?

A recent Google consumer survey conducted by employee-verification company, SheerID, revealed that among 500 respondents, only 22% of workers use their employee discount programmes. However, if these programmes were easier to use, 46% said they would use them more often.

These are some popular employee discounts that are most likely to be used, according to the survey:

1. Entertainment/attractions/travel (63.10%)

2. Restaurants (54.72%)

3. Software/computers/electronics (49.55%)

4. Subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, etc.) (38.32%)

5. Apparel/health/beauty (28.16%)

6. Office supplies (20.50%)

Having a programme that can allow employees to customise their experience themselves, can be a more collaborative and enjoyable offering for customers.


Building a good incentives programme for employees

Building an incentive programme is not difficult if you approach it correctly. A great place to gauge is what sort of incentives are important to your workforce.

Some employees may prefer monetary incentives; some may prefer experiences. Either way, you need an easy to set up system that can accommodate a plethora of needs. It is also key to ensure that employee incentives can be used remotely as well. With a more flexible and remote workforce on the rise, your incentives should not be limited to those who have access to your offices; if anything, incentives can be a crucial component in keeping remote teams productive and engaged as well.

The time and effort it can take companies to put good incentives in place for employees, is minimal compared to correcting the effects of brewing negativity. Creating an attractive proposition for new hires and your existing teams, powerful employee incentives packages are both cost-effective and easy to set up. You also don’t want incentives that can’t be redeemed immediately.

According to a 2018 Cornell University study, people who were rewarded instantly and frequently were overall more interested in and determined to complete tasks at work. Additionally, the same research concluded that after the rewards were removed, the same people continued to be engaged and interested in their work. This shows the positive relationship between instant rewards and long-term job satisfaction, which is why incentives that continue to offer value to employees will go on to benefit organisations.

Monetary and non-monetary incentives alike can significantly boost productivity.

The top three employee incentive gift ideas include:

  • Gifts, such as electronics
  • Gift cards to spend at favourite retailers
  • Experiences, such as tickets to concerts and festivals.

Incentives and rewards must excite employees and make them feel appreciated.

Incentives for employees should also be frequently evaluated. Much like your workforce, incentives and offerings are constantly evolving, and working with a provider that can support you with the transition can make sure you are up to date on all upcoming trends. If a programme isn't engaging, there is likely to be lower participation among employees, which can defeat the objective of the whole programme.


Employee incentive gift ideas

Blackhawk Network’s unique resources and rewards

Good for your team. Good for you. With our help, you’ll have what you need to inspire employees to perform at higher levels, reach their goals, develop effective habits and invigorate your company culture. Here are our top employee incentive gift ideas:

Digital rewards  

Select is a digital reward platform that enables your employees to turn Select Codes into digital or physical gift cards. The denomination of each Code you can send allows up to £5,000, which makes it a popular choice for higher value recognition.  

Once your employee receives their Select Code, they can swap it for the gift card or eGift of their choice across a plethora of brands, including retailers and restaurants. Employees tell us they like being in control and get satisfaction from choosing something they really want.  

Select can also be personalised to the look and feel of your company, and the digital aspect means everything can be done online in an instant. However, if you prefer physical rewards, this option is available too. 

Gift cards 

Your employees will be able to shop in thousands of retail and restaurant locations across the UK with our One4all gift card. Each gift card has a maximum value of £120, which makes it a favourite for smaller, more regular, rewards.  

If you can get your employees to choose their own reward this encourages an increase in engagement as you help them to create memories on top of feeling rewarded. They’ll remember the feeling of enjoyment they got from their purchase (whether it’s an item or experience) far longer than a bottle of champers. These memories will be a constant reminder about how much you value them. 

One4all gift cards can be given in a physical or digital format, and there’s also the ability to brand the cards with your company’s logo and preferred design. 


Envy is our experiences reward. It provides a vast range of experiences your workforce can choose from, such as spa days, hot air balloon rides,and driving supercars. We find many businesses enjoy rewarding their employees with once-in-a-lifetime-experiences and offering an opportunity for them to encounter something new.  

As with our gift cards, Envy allows your employees to choose their own experience. They can also upgrade their package if there’s something else they wish to try. Envy rewards can be presented in both physical and digital formats, whatever suits your business best. 

Interested in finding out how offering incentives for employees can support your company? Fill out the form on your right and one of our customer loyalty experts will be in touch.