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.

Engage Your Employees With Wellness Challenges

Wellness Challenges

Wellness challenges are becoming all the rage at workplaces across the country and are encouraging employees to become happier, healthier, and more energetic at work. Requiring little to no investment, the challenges help to promote a supportive, positive climate of camaraderie and fun.

Creating Wellness Challenges

Wellness challenges can be created by anyone within your organization, but since challenges are a team effort, engagement would likely be increased when ideas and input are provided from everyone. Consistent challenges are key to keeping everyone engaged. Short duration challenges are more focused and effective as well.  A weeklong or month-long challenge is most effective.

Reward Efforts in Wellness Challenges

Wellness challenges are most successful when they are easy to participate in and have an attainable goal. One example would be a company having a month long challenge for employees to take a walk during their break, or trade in their unhealthy snacks for a piece of fruit or other nutritious offerings. For every day they complete the challenge, the employee would get a point. Throughout the month, employees would have had unique experiences that they can share with their colleagues. While rewards are optional, opting to reward employees with gift cards, time off, or other non-cash incentives is highly recommended. Rewards handed out at a monthly meeting is the recognition ‘icing on the cake’. You can also use this time to discuss the next challenge.


Find the right reward

Wellness Challenge Ideas

Wellness challenges can be physical, nutritional, emotional, and even educational. The key is to have fun and keep employees happy, healthy, and more energetic.

  • Sleep 7 hours per night
  • Drink 32 oz of water during working hours
  • Exercise for 30 minutes – every 30 minutes equals 1 point
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Bike to work
  • Express gratitude to others
  • Read a self-help book
  • Share lunch with a coworker

Remember that measurement is often subjective. Do not worry if people are being less than honest when it comes to participating in the challenges. They are only missing out on the real benefits of the experience.

Subscribe to Corporate Wellness Magazine today to get the latest tips and more for your corporate wellness programs.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Pro-tips for Outsourcing an Incentive Program

outsourcing an incentive program

A new study from the Incentive Research FoundationEngaging Outside Program Support for Incentive and Recognition Programs, is full of ideas on how to use outside firms to optimize your incentive programs this year. There are a number of ways to go about outsourcing an incentive program, from working with gift card providers as a cost effective reward solution, to having your program fully administered by an outside firm.

Here are a few unique ways to outsource efforts, while keeping costs low and increasing your program(s) success rates:

Full Service Providers vs. Gift Card Providers

outside program supportEnd-users employ a variety of providers, from sales programs (green), to channel programs (yellow) and employee programs (red). We will focus on employee programs in this post.

A great way to be effective without breaking your budget is to employee a gift card only provider, without employing a full service program administrator.

75% of survey respondents employ gift card only providers for employee programs

75% of survey respondents employ gift card only providers for employee programs, which offer a variety of gift card options and often include a discount for bulk orders. These providers would help your HR team administer the program, without handling all of the logistical aspects of the program. Only 25% of respondents to the IRF survey utilized a full service provider for employee programs. The likely reason? The integration period and cost is significantly less with a gift card only provider while still offering the variety and impact that your employee program needs.

Find the right incentive

Ordering Online vs. Having an Account Representative

According to the 2015 Global Consumer Online Shopping Expectations report from DYN, more than 90% of consumers surveyed across 11 countries said they
make at least 25% of their purchases online. Whether it’s clothing or office supplies (or even admittedly dog food!) it’s nice to do things on your own time and on your own terms. However, when it comes to incentives for your program, it might be beneficial to order through an account manager, as 65% of the IRF respondents indicated they do. Why? Because when using outside help, the human element can save your bottom line. Account reps can help you hit discount amounts that you might not know exist. They can give you preferential pricing, or free shipping. The human element may take a few more minutes to process but it may save you money in the long run.

Do you have more pro tips? Leave us a comment and you could see it in a future blog.

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.

Investment in Employee Wellness Goes Beyond Health

Investment in employee wellness

A recent study, State of the Industry: Employee Well-being in 2016, from Virgin Pulse, in partnership with Human Capital Media, surveyed over 1,000 HR professionals across a variety of levels and industries to see how they planned to use employee wellness and health programs in 2016. Their findings go beyond the obvious answer we have seen in past years.

The survey indicated that employee wellness programs in 2016 will not simply focus on reducing healthcare costs for employers and employees. Employee wellness has expanded to include financial wellness, and more company-centric motives like employee productivity, promoting organizational culture and employee engagement. The investment in employee wellness is moving from being viewed as a cost-cutting measure and is now used more as a tool for employee engagement.

Here are the key stats from the new study:

  • 60% of HR professionals surveyed are looking to use employee wellness to improve employee engagement
  • 53% are looking to improve productivity through employee wellness
  • 52.8% look to improve and promote organizational culture through employee wellness

One of the major developments in the study, focusing on 2016, is that the initiatives listed above were previously considered “HR Priorities.” They were things HR was focused on but no other business function was held accountable to. In 2016, look for these initiatives to become organizational initiatives, tackled by many areas of your company.

Making an investment in employee wellness began as a way to control rising healthcare costs and to bring healthy living into the workplace. Since its inception, employee wellness has now morphed into a way to transform your company culture, engage employees, and to make your organization a place your entire staff is excited to come to every day. Employee wellness has become a component of employee retention which, along with engagement is another major HR driven organizational initiative going into the new year.

 


Gift cards motivate and build engagement with rewards that people really want. They are a powerful tool to help you achieve the goals set in any type of wellness program.

Select the “Right Brands for the Right Programs”

Find the right reward

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 Make Incentives Work More Efficiently

make incentives work

Employee incentives are a proven way to motivate employees, increase productivity and retention, as well as align your organizational goals with employee goals. However, do you know how efficient your incentive program is? It may be working, but not as well as it could. With a fresh new year, now is a great time to take stock of your employee incentive program and find ways to make incentives work better.

Roy Saunderson shared 10 tips with Incentive Magazine on how to make incentives work better, here are our top 3 tips:

  1. Align incentivized behaviors with organizational goals: Aligning employee behavior with organizational goals seems like a no-brainer, but it can be a challenge. Using incentives to steer employee attitude and behavior is a strategy that helps align employees and management, increasing employee satisfaction and retention. We wrote more about the role value-based rewards play in program outcomes a few months ago.
  2. Create a personal experience around receiving incentives: Not all employees want to receive incentives the same way. Some employees may want public recognition while others may cringe at the idea of it, opting for a more private recognition. Some may prefer merchandise and others could place more value on a gift card to select their reward on their own time. Making this experience special, memorable and unique for the individual is the best way to ensure that your incentive program is effective.
  3. Never let incentives take over for human motivation: This is an important one, and we in the incentive space don’t address it often enough. Incentives cannot take the place of that “fire in the belly” human motivation. The real tip here? Don’t over incent your employees. Don’t dangle so many carrots in front of them that they won’t move without one. Find the balance, and make it work for you this year.

Find the right incentive
What are the most efficient employee incentives in your office? 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.

Incentives and Rewards in 2016: The role they play in program success

incentives & rewards in 2016

Throughout 2015, many companies were faced with similar issues around engagement, recognition, acquisition or retention, wellness, and more. As you take the time to evaluate efforts, here are a few trends that speak to the integral part incentives and rewards play in the success of your program in 2016.

Find the right incentive

A Place for Incentives and Rewards in 2016

Sky’s the Limit for Incentive Programs

According to Incentive’s 2016 Reader Forecast survey, incentive programs of all kinds are up.

  • 13.6% said they will run more gift card incentive programs
  • 20% said they will run more employee sales recognition programs
  • 78.7% of incentive programs met goals/expectations in 2015
  • 12.8% of incentives programs exceeded goals/expectations in 2015

incentives and rewards in 2016Why Cash Isn’t King

The 2015 Participant Study, held by the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), breaks down the motivational power of non-cash incentives.

  • 65% of people would select a non-cash award
  • For small incentives, 40% determined their total award experience was determined by the award presentation

Engaging Outside Program Support

New research from the IRF gauges how incentive and recognition programs are procured by end-using companies.

using incentives in wellness

Using Incentives in Wellness

Motivating Healthy Behavioral Change

There are essentially two kinds of ways to modify behavior: Extrinsic (external motivation like tangible wellness incentives AND Intrinsic (internal motivation like gamification itself)

Learn how to implement both for a successful program.

Study Finds Incentives Help Lower Blood Pressure

Health kiosk company higi found that combining health tracking with incentives, rewards, and challenges can contribute to consumers’ lowered blood pressure. Keep reading…

The Employee Perspective on Rewards

GiftCard Partners commissioned Shapiro+Raj to examine the non-clinical side of the American healthcare system from the perspective of companies and their employers and employees. We presented the research in the webcast, Using Incentives to Drive Change in Corporate Wellness Programs.

Key take-aways included:

  • What works to keep the population and the individual engaged in changing their behaviors and gaining compliance
  • The types of incentives that work to truly engage employees
  • Perceptions of changing behaviors; absenteeism, use of emergency facilities, morale, greater productivity etc.
    • Rewards/incentives
    • Gym memberships/onsite or offsite
    • Screening and other wellness services
  • The role and impact of incentive-centric programs and support, both currently and in the future.


Subscribe to our blog and keep up-to-date with the latest in corporate wellness, rewards, and incentives.

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.

Incentives Improve Workplace Performance

improve workplace performanceGenesis Associates, a British-based recruiting firm focusing in the sales, engineering, and creative sectors, recently surveyed employees to try to determine exactly how important incentives were in the workplace. Their findings were astounding. 85% of responding workers indicated that they do their best work when an incentive is involved. That’s not just better work, or they work harder, that is their best. Don’t you want their best all the time? This survey adds to the proof that incentives are no longer an option but a necessity to maintaining a positive work environment. Of those surveyed, 73% indicated that their work atmosphere was good or very good during an incentive period.

So what do you give employees to properly incentivize them? The survey also went into the incentive itself. They saw:

  • 40% of employees wanted money
  • 29% wanted a free vacation
  • 23% wanted more paid time off

So how do you decide? Well, for one, keep the rewards consistent with your inventive program. If you give individual rewards (and depending on our audience)money, travel or PTO may be good options (although we prefer gift cards to cash). However, the British survey also indicated that 71% of respondents were also looking for team-based incentives. The “succeed together, fail together” motto drives employees to not only work hard but to work together to ensure organizational success as well as personal success. Team incentives can also help to engage the un-engageable, when feeling the encouragement of a group many tend to rise to the occasion because they don’t want to be the one to let their team down.

Incentives used to consist of a plaque for a big work anniversary or a staff lunch around the holidays. Now, incentives are a critical part of employee compensation and really need to be treated as such. Make the investment in your employees and maximize productivity at your organization through individual or team employee incentives.

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.

Survey Says Non-Cash Incentives are the Answer

non-cash incentives

We’ve all received cash bonuses. It’s the biggest staple of employee rewards and incentives, but should it be? The Incentive Marketing Association and the Incentive Research Foundation have partnered once again to take a closer look at the rewards and incentives that make the biggest impact in your programs. Their Participant Survey, surveying 452 employees with 80 in-depth questions, helped prove a point that GiftCard Partners has emphasized for a long time: that cash is NOT king when it comes to employee reward programs. The Participant Survey showed incredible statistics about employees’ propensity to choose non-cash incentives when presented with a choice.

A few key findings included:

  • 65% of employees in a small reward scenario take non-cash incentives
  • 80% of employees in a large reward scenario take non-cash incentives
  • 40% of the total award experience is based on presentation while 60% is the actual award

Employees focus on professional development

The study went on to explain that the biggest motivation opportunity within reward programs is professional development. This is particularly interesting and important because of the consistency with which employees answered this question. Whether they were millennials or boomers, men or women, everyone placed a high value on professional development. One-third of respondents valued professional development as their optimal total rewards experience.

Getting flexible with your reward options

The second major industry myth the Participant Survey debunked was the notion that not only do employers need to tailor their employee rewards away from cash incentives but they also need to find some magical mix of non-cash incentives and rewards. Combining different kinds of rewards, like gift cards, professional development, additional time off or executive access is a great way for employers to offer their employees something they will value. However, there is no set formula for this combination. Every employee is different. Of those responding, 99% said they would prefer a unique scenario for their preferred total award experience. The lesson to learn here? Create options and flexibility but allow employees to take their unique mix and make it a reality.

How will you create that total reward experience mix in 2016?

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.

5 Team Building Ideas For Employees

team building

Team building often feels forced. It can be seen as a cheesy, waste of time especially for those employees who are less social. The truth is a lot of team building exercises ARE a waste of time. But you can do team building the right way.

To plan a successful team building exercise you should be thoughtful to who is on the team and the goal you want to accomplish. Pairing the right personalities with the goals you want to accomplish will keep employees more engaged in team building.

Here are 5 excellent ideas for team building:

  1. Know Their Strengths – Have employees take a strengths assessment test. This personality test can provide valuable information to help employees work better. You can also recognize employee strengths in other facets of their job function.
  2. Music – Music is an amazing team building art. Many musical nonprofits offer team building workshops. Think African drumming or an employee Stomp performance.
  3. Scavenger Hunts – Scavenger hunts are filled with many different challenges and appeal to many different personalities. Riddles and trivia incorporated into a scavenger hunt can entice those with problem-solving skills.
  4. Game Night – This is another fun filled way to build better relationships between teams. And there are so many different games to choose from, it is easy to appeal to multiple personalities.
  5. Charity Events – Is there a cause that your company or employees closely aligns their work to? Why not plan a charity event? Event planning is full of problem-solving and goal alignment challenges, and the end result can be rewarding.

A team that works well together is typically happier, more effective, more productive, and fun to work with! But establishing and developing those bonds can be tricky, especially when your team building activities make employees uncomfortable or unhappy.

Need more great team building ideas? Check out this article, 50 Team building Ideas to Engage Employees, from Quantum Workplace!

What other team building ideas has your company had that you’ve enjoyed?

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

The Link Between Employee Loyalty and Customer Engagement

employee engagement and loyalty

Employee loyalty and customer engagement: two seemingly independent business issues that are actually inextricably linked. While it seems that employee loyalty is an internal HR issue that should only be tied to employee recognition and length of service rewards like additional PTO or a special recognition ceremony, that isn’t the case. Employee loyalty is an external real business issue because employee longevity, employee satisfaction, and employee loyalty are all inextricably linked to customer engagement and ultimately customer spending.

Melanie Frok describes three critical components of employee engagement and loyalty that are most critical to your business:

  • Communication– Engaging employees by clearly communicating objectives, goals and metrics for customer success is critical. Communication sets employees up for success, and ultimately when employees are successful so is your business.
  • Connection– Forging a connection between employees and their work and employees and their customer relationships bring employees purpose. When employees feel intention that is when their work is the most impactful and brings the most success to the overall business and customers. That intention also ensures employee longevity and loyalty.
  • Contribution– Employee loyalty is great, and connection with the work is even better. However, if employers don’t emphasize to their staff that their material contribution to the company is the most important element of their work your failing your employees. Lighting a fire of ambition is one of the most critical keys to success.

GiftCard Partners white paper, Integrating Loyalty Tactics to Build Customer Engagement, covers similar topics to help ensure your employee loyalty programs can translate into consumer loyalty. Ensuring ROI for both internal and external investments by relating employee longevity and customer longevity. Long, happy relationships with your employees will lead to long, happy relationships with your customers.

employee loyalty and customer engagement

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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.