With unemployment rates hovering around 4.5 percent and millennials taking over the majority of our workforce, it’s more important than ever for employers to find ways to engage and build loyalty among their employee base. When developing a reward strategy, many HR professionals are looking not only for easy integration with existing platforms, but also the right technology and incentive that resonates with their specific employee base.
For one large employer, this task became even more difficult as it struggled with rewarding employees in all different roles — from the accounting team to the manufacturing floor — and across several countries. In previous years, recognition was fragmented and inconsistent, especially during the holidays. One department would give its team members a ham, while another department might get a tin of popcorn or a physical gift card. Departmental budgets varied and a disjointed approach made it hard to keep track of the incentive program.
In this situation, the company was looking for a gift that made sense for their employee demographics and allowed them to consolidate their approach cross-departmentally for their annual reward. They landed on a digital, virtual gift card reward. This approach worked very well for them for several reasons:
- All employees received the same prepaid cash gift card.
- Delivery to employees was seamless and streamlined via email regardless of their location or job role.
- Everyone received the reward at the same time and redemption was trackable.
- Reward delivery was personalized with the employee’s name and a message from the company president, making it more meaningful.
- Budgets were easily managed, going to one centralized reward that capitalized on economies of scale from managing 160 different departmental buyers.
For this program, redemption of the gift went up approximately 40 percent compared to previous years. Although this example focuses specifically on a holiday gift, the premise behind it can help to advise any ongoing reward program.
Companies can use the digital reward approach year-round, replacing outdated, clunky employee recognition programs such as collection of points. Many of these programs are difficult to manage and result in points that can be cashed in for something the employee didn’t really want in the first place.
With the majority of companies downsizing and human resources staff wearing multiple hats, the management of a complicated program alone can become overwhelming. The cost of the program overshadows the rewards that actually go to the employees — negating the overall goal of an employee engagement, loyalty and retention strategy. Less goes to the employees, which means less goes into changing behaviors.
There are several things to look for when choosing a rewards program that will truly work:
- How easily can it integrate with other technology being used?
APIs, or application programming interfaces, are a common way to integrate new technology into existing systems. With the right API, an employer can implement a digital reward system from company-side program development all the way to private, secure, instant reward delivery. Some, for example, offer turnkey management of reward delivery during every step of the process — including scalability, advanced reporting, security and more.
- How streamlined is the management of the program after it is implemented? A rewards management portal is the perfect way to manage employee recognition. Make sure you find a solutions provider who offers control over the reward process with a platform that is customizable to accommodate needs from the inside out — matching up with internal processes to help meet overall goals. Scalable access that can match company hierarchy, allowing multiple managers to use the platform to set up individual access levels across the organization ensures both privacy and relevancy.
- How much choice does the employee have in the matter? Instant, digital rewards are already a step above points or gifts that an employee never wanted in the first place. But what kind of reward? Some programs give the recipient a choice — they can get anything from a prepaid cash card to use anywhere, or a brand card for their favorite retailer, restaurant or activity. This way every time they are rewarded they can choose something different, giving them a measure of control over the process and making it resonate more with each individual.
Wrap all these benefits with the ability to personalize the delivery with company messaging, look and feel, and digital rewarding is a no-brainer. By looking for the right technology, employers can implement employee incentive and recognition solutions that provide value, selection, reliability and security. These programs can inspire individual departments to meet company goals, safety goals or health goals, and they provide an instant, easily redeemable, companywide employee recognition gift.
Jacilyn Bennett has more than 15 years’ experience in the technology and marketing-based industries, with a focus on loyalty, incentive and recognition program sales. She is based in the Atlanta area.