Promote Employee Loyalty From Within

promote employee loyaltyEmployers are constantly looking to find ways to promote employee loyalty in a professional climate of job hoppers and career changers. Employers try everything from nap pods to unlimited vacation to beer in the kitchen. But what do employees really need in order to feel dedicated to an employer? The answer, real purpose. To feel important and connected to organizational goals and to be provided with opportunities to learn and grow outweigh any perk an employer could provide. In short, invest in employees and they will invest in you.

Employees and career choices

According to a recent Cornerstone OnDemand survey conducted by Kelton Global:

  • 89% of employees would consider a lateral move to find fulfillment in their careers
  • 77% would relocate to work for a company that fulfilled their career goals
  • 55% would change careers (including 75% of millennials) in order to be more satisfied at work

These statistics show that perks are great, but a really fulfilling workplace that grows talent and recognizes exceptional work outweighs any cool atmosphere enhancement. Your office might feel like a clubhouse, but if you aren’t willing to grow your talent from within, it might end up walking out the door.

These statistics and others like them are so important for employers to be aware of and to take into account when making Human Resource management decisions. With employee loyalty a top-of-mind priority for most HR departments, creating a culture of talent value, promoting from within and professional development at any level are extremely important.

Keys to help promote employee loyalty

  • Peer mentorship with high-level employees to low-level employees
  • Maintaining a budget for employee learning programs
  • Ensuring that when employees do learn externally there is accountability to share that knowledge with their peers

Implementing programs like these are a few simple ways to build the infrastructure required for professional development and long-term employee loyalty.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

3 Tips to Engage Remote Employees

engage remote employees

Technology has made working from home a more common occurrence than ever before. Gallup’s 2015 annual Work and Education poll showed that 37 percent of U.S. workers indicated they have worked from home, up almost 30 percent since 1995. So how are you going to engage so many remote employees this year? With an increased number of companies providing flexible schedules and the ability for many employees to work remotely at least part of the time, it is important to have a plan to motivate, inform engage remote employees to ensure success.

  1. Mutual understanding: Remote employees and their managers need to work extra hard to safeguard that responsibilities, tasks, due dates are taken seriously and continuously met. Since these employees and their managers don’t have the chance encounters in the hallway or in the 5 minutes after a meeting ends, it’s important to find alternative ways to have those off-hand check-ins. Managers also need to make themselves easily available for employees to ask questions more often than just in planned meetings. It can be as simple as more emails or short phone calls, but it could make the difference between engagement and employee failure.
  2. Trust, trust, trust: This may seem like a given but trust is the most important part of having a remote workforce and engaging those employees. You can’t see them, you don’t know that they are at their desks all day and likewise, they may not know their manager cares about the extra hours they put in or their above and beyond performances on a certain project. Differences in time zone and working hours can compound this challenge. Additionally, tone can often get lost in our connected world, so doing a little extra to make sure your employees know you trust them to get their work done and to give their all to projects could be the difference between having an engaged, empowered remote group and having to look for a new team.
  3. Recognition and reinforcement: Since communication structures are often different for remote teams, recognizing exceptional behavior and reinforcing it among peers is critical. Mike Ryan, Senior Vice President at Madison Performance Group notes that creating a “democratic” or peer-to-peer recognition strategy can be even more engaging. It empowers employees not only to work hard, but to look out for others’ exceptional behavior. Giving employees the power to call each other’s hard work out is empowering and engaging all on its own. It can be a unique engagement program component that brings a remote team together. Adding rewards to this type of program can also show that an employer is willing to invest not only time and effort but money into this type of recognition and engagement as well.

Remote workforces can enable your team to scout the best talent and create work schedules and arrangements that work for both managers and employees. However, these teams can grow distant and it can be difficult for executives and managers to engage employees who aren’t in the office, or aren’t in the office all of the time. Use recognition, trust, and clear communication to engage remote employees.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Motivating a Multi-Generational Workforce

Motivating a Multi-Generational Workforce

When typing the word “motivation” into Amazon’s bookstore you’ll discover there are over 100,000 books related to motivation: The Motivation Manifesto, 77 Ways to Get Motivated, Drive: The Surprise Truth About What Motivates Us; the list goes on and on. But all that helpful advice must be taken with a grain of salt now that managers are motivating a multi-generational workforce.

Three generations now make up today’s workforce. Look around the office and you’ll see Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and who could forget all those Millennials. According to Pew Research Center’s 2015 study, U.S. Labor Force by Generation, Baby Boomers make up 44.6 million, Generation Xers make up 52.7 million, and Millennials make up 53.5 million of the U.S. labor force. So why is this so important? Because each generation is motivated by different values, work styles, communication tactics, job responsibilities, and rewards.

Motivating a Multi-Generational Workforce

Motivating a multi-generational workforce

To clearly identify what motivates each generation it’s important to understand their lifestyles, how they think and what major events may have shaped them up to this point. Lead Star’s recent report, Leading & Motivating a Multi-Generational Workforce, compiles guidelines —carefully differentiating them from negative stereotypes— to keep in mind when looking to motivate each generation.

Motivating a Multi-Generational Workforce

Chart created based on information from Lead Star’s report Leading & Motivating a Multi-Generation Workforce.

While this chart isn’t a catch all for finding exactly what makes each generation tick, it is helpful in identifying how different tactics work when motivating a multi-generational workforce.

Think of it this way…

Mary is a 35-year-old mother of two who enjoys going to her sons’ baseball games and camping on weekends. Mary goes above and beyond on a big project and the boss wants to acknowledge her hard work and get her motivated for the next project coming her way. Based on the chart above, what scenario would be the best for Mary?

Scenario 1: Mary’s boss schedules an in-person meeting with her to reward her with a promotion. The promotion will require Mary to work longer hours and one weekend a month, but gives her a big pay raise.

Scenario 2: Mary’s boss calls everyone’s attention right before lunch to publicly thank Mary for all her hard work on the project. He gives her a handwritten thank you letter with a Whole Foods Market gift card for $100. The following day Mary uses the gift card to buy refreshments for all the parents at her sons’ baseball game.

In this case, Scenario 2 would most likely be the better choice of action. Generation Xers tend to value both public recognition and work/life balance over financial rewards like promotions.

Gaining an understanding of what each generation expects or values helps guide managers and leaders to successfully reward or motivate. Take a closer look at your workforce, when it comes to motivation it’s not a one size fits all scenario.

Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

Employee Travel Rewards Gain Popularity and Value

employee travel rewardsEmployee travel rewards are common and have been since the days of service crystals and 5- year pins. But the way they are being applied in today’s employee reward environment is changing and evolving. Here are three ways employee travel rewards are changing and can be used to maximize effectiveness.

  1. Technology Extends Reach: Technology has changed every aspect of our lives, and employee rewards are no exception. Technology helps extend the reach of employee reward programs, allowing employees to accrue more points or credits towards rewards, as well as allowing employers to engage employees in different ways, like through gamification. According to the latest IRF 2016 Trends in Incentive Travel, Rewards, and Recognition study, over 30% of employers use gaming techniques in their employee reward and recognition programs. Technology also allows employers to build their programs to include large incentives like travel and to measure them to assure employees are earning the larger more expensive rewards.
  2. Gift Card Programs Show Confidence: The prevalence of gift card programs shows confidence in the economy, in investment in employee incentive programs, and confidence that larger rewards such as employee travel rewards can pay off. 38% of the responding employers to the 2016 IRF study plan to increase their rewards budgets in 2016, leaving options for larger incentive goals like employee travel rewards. So while gift cards are smaller spot rewards, they also act as indicators for the larger employee incentive and reward climate.
  3. Non-Cash is Playing a New Role: “Three quarters of all U.S. businesses leverage non-cash rewards and recognition to motivate and engage their workforce on some level, spending over $77 billion annually,” according to the IRF study. But in order for the non-cash reward to be most effective, it must be delivered appropriately. Using non-cash rewards for non-core job responsibilities maximizes their effectiveness and your program’s efficiency. Non-core job responsibilities can include tasks and projects that employees raise their hands to get involved in.

The value of employee incentive programs is rising and employee travel rewards are gaining popularity in the face of increasing incentive value, the continued rise of non-cash rewards, and technology extending the reach of rewards and the ability to track employee efforts. How are you using travel rewards in your company?

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Don’t Screw Up Employee Recognition

Employee recognition programDone right, an employee recognition program can promote loyalty, boost motivation, and increase productivity. But a lot of employee recognition programs get it wrong. We know this because the programs aren’t successful, and while money is being put into programs year after year, the end goal isn’t met. So how do you avoid investing in a program that fails?

FastCompany identifies 3 of the most common screw-ups:

  1. Know that employees (mostly) do it for the rewards. Employees get involved with employee recognition programs because of the rewards. Don’t forget that. So many employers start to “drink their own Kool-Aid” and get so focused on loyalty and productivity that they forget that employees are in it for the extra cash or time off. Remember that rewards are the heart of your program.
  2. Assuming you know how to motivate everyone. Employers spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out how to motivate employees. What to do and how to do it seems to elude a lot of employees. The biggest mistake employers’ make is assuming the same thing motivates all employees. Different people value different things by way of employee recognition. Some may want money, some time-off, some tickets to a game or a donation to their favorite charity. Ask your people what they want; it’s the easiest way to deliver something of value.
  3. Recognition doesn’t have to come from the top. Gone are the days of executives in their ivory towers. We work in a time of collaboration and open floor plans. Make sure you treat your employee recognition program the same way. Recognition should be able to come from anyone in the organization, including peers and subordinates. Being innovative and catching employees off guard will guarantee that you not only “don’t screw it up” but also that your program grows roots in your organization and thrives.
Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Why Cash Rewards Don’t Motivate

cash rewards

We talked before about the shift in reward and incentive programs. Employers must now take into account that each workplace is usually comprised of 3 different generations, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Each of these generations defines a “valuable reward” in different ways. This shift in rewarding now involves turning away from the idea of general cash rewards and taking a more personalized approach to the individuals you are trying to motivate or reward.

Whether the program is designed to motivate behavioral change, “above and beyond” performances, or engagement, the one tool that remains consistent throughout is the reward or incentive. It’s an important aspect of any program and should be regarded as such when designing your program.

In the past (and many times still today) the preferred option of motivating was offering cash rewards. It’s a common notion that the more money an individual receives at work, the happier and more motivated they will be. But new research finds big cash incentives are more distracting than motivating, and the relationship between motivation and performance is more complex.


Find the right reward


Incentive Magazine article, 3 Reasons Why Cash Incentives Don’t Motivate, points to two separate studies supporting the idea that cash incentives don’t link to motivation and workplace happiness. One study from Tim Judge of the University of Florida concluded that even if companies let their employees set their own salaries, they still wouldn’t enjoy the job more.

The second study, from Gallup, interviewed 1.4 million people at every pay level, across every industry, around the world and found that job satisfaction had little to do with money. The article points to three important reasons why cash incentives don’t motivate.

Reasons not to use cash rewards

  1. At the end of the day, it’s just considered income. We all have expenses and every dollar brought in typically goes to one of those expenses. So the lasting effect of the reward is fleeting. Which brings us to,
  2. Cash has no “trophy value.” When you’ve earned a reward it’s typical to be proud of it, maybe even show it off a bit. But it’s not usually in good taste to start passing around your paycheck to show off that reward. Getting that reward is something to celebrate and enjoy.
  3. Cash Programs Usually Lack Goals. Think of it this way. If you’re running in a race but have no clue where the finish line is, who’s to say you’ve actually won at the end…no matter how fast you run. Clear goals allow employees to understand where they’re going, how far they are and what they’ve accomplished once they got there.

The best thing an employer can do is to take a close look at how effective their program is. What is the overall goal of the program, are your employees clear on it, and what rewards have the greatest impact on your program participants? While money is important, yes, it isn’t everything.


So you’re on the same page, but if not cash rewards then what tools should you be utilizing to effectively motivate and engage your workforce for long-term success? Check out our recent post, Incentives and Rewards in 2016: The role they play in program success, to learn more about how and what rewards and incentives are being used.

Stay up-to-date with the latest trends in reward and recognition and subscribe to the blog today!


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Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

3 Employee Engagement Trends to Consider in 2016

employee engagement trends

Employee engagement remains a critical part of HR programs and a big challenge going further into 2016. While every expert is discussing engagement trends, here are three trends to help you get started in boosting your employee engagement.

Employee engagement trends

  1. Engagement and culture- Employee engagement remains a top concern for both employers and HR going into 2016, and it’s a trend that’s not going away. According to a new Deloitte survey, 87% of organizations indicated that employee engagement and culture are a top challenge, with 50% indicating that this challenge is “very important” to address this year. Engagement is a catalyst and a precedent-setter for your organizational culture. Employee engagement and culture set standards for how your employees view their time at work and their relationship with their employer.
  1. Professional development will link to turnover- Professional development has become something employees expect. Without opportunities to learn and grow within the organization, employees will look for employment elsewhere. Employee engagement can hinge on ensuring that employees have room for this growth within their current position. It allows employees to feel comfortable staying put in their current organization, rather than looking for other employment.
  1. Peer-to-peer recognition will grow- Peer recognition has become an important component of employee engagement. Not only does it engage employees in their own fate, it also creates a sense of equal community and breaks down traditional vertical hierarchy at the office. Involving employees in each other’s success allows teams and individuals to succeed and fail together.

For thirteen more employee engagement trends check out this article from CIO Magazine.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

4 Tips to Boost Employee Engagement

boost employee engagement

Employee engagement is a number one priority for HR departments as we get further into 2016. Based on a 2014 SHRM survey, employees rated engagement levels at work a 3.6 out of 5. So how do you boost employee engagement rates?

Here are four tips from PC Magazine on how to perfect your program, and boost employee engagement this year:

  1. Measure your program: Do not make assumptions based on employee chatter or what you hear from managers. According to SHRM, surveys are used by 49% of employers to “take the temperature” of their employee engagement program. This is important to keep your program on track and to elicit a constant stream of feedback from employees. This not only maintains a successful program but helps to constantly improve it.
  2. Make engagement a big deal: It’s important, so treat it as such. Make it an executive and managerial priority and weave it into other full company initiatives. Make employee engagement a top concern, keep it constant in your employees and managers every day lives, and it becomes less of an initiative and more the culture of your organization.
  3. Replace cash: Despite what employee engagement programs may have looked like 10-15 years ago, cash is no longer king in employee engagement. Cash bonuses that lack long-term trophy value are now being replaced with experiences, gift cards and extra vacation time. Give your employees something memorable that will stick in their minds and have a lasting impact in how engaged they are on a regular Tuesday.
  4. Audit your program: We mentioned a bit about feedback in number one, but its importance cannot be emphasized enough. There should be a constant (not annual or biannual) review of your program through employee feedback. Set up an email alias, or an always-on survey, or even an old-fashioned suggestion box. Just make sure your employees’ voices are heard and heard often.

Have another tip for our employee engagement initiative? Want to help your peers find innovative ways to engage their staff this year? Leave us a comment.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Are Employee Rewards Benefits or Bonuses?

employee rewards
A new study from the Reward & Employee Benefits Association indicates that employee engagement is considered a top strategic priority for 2016 (35.6% of respondents indicated this as number 1).

So how do we get employees engaged? Employee rewards.

Employee rewards are a critical part of total employee compensation, and also play an important role in boosting employee engagement rates. But are employee rewards considered a bonus or formal employee benefit? U.K. based publication, The HR Director, has an innovative stance on how employee rewards should be viewed, evaluated and posed to employees.

Traditionally, rewards have been viewed as bonuses. They have been viewed as something that require employees to exhibit continued exceptional behavior, not something that employees come to expect from their employer. Initial reward programs began with old-fashioned recognition for things like anniversary of hire, or the giving of crystal plaques and watches.

Programs have since progressed to offering employee rewards that come in a variety of forms and are given like a benefit, which by definition is something that employers owe employees as a part of their employment. Smaller and timelier rewards can now come in the form of cash, as an addition to the employee’s base pay, gift cards or extra vacation time. So as employee rewards evolve, should they become a benefit, as they have been more recently with the way healthcare and basic life insurance is? Is employee recognition that important?

The HR Director is suggesting that in terms of pay structure employers should consider rewards an inextricable part of employee compensation. So much so that they are budgeted as benefits, and included in total employee compensation. To structure pay in this way would essentially guarantee employees receive rewards. Instead of being an added income, rewards would become a given, with low performing employees getting reductions in income, rather than high performing employees getting added incentives.

So is that going back to a “stick” method of rewards, rather than using the proven “carrot” method?

While employee recognition and employee engagement are critically important to organization production and employee satisfaction, personally, I’m not convinced that rewards shouldn’t stay a value add, separate from the benefits given to all employees. Thoughts? Leave us a comment?

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.