Guest post: The changing face of employee reward

Guest post: The changing face of employee reward

Developments in technology, payments, and consumer behaviour means there’s never been a better time to implement simple yet highly effective benefits

Developments in technology, payments, and consumer behaviour means there’s never been a better time to implement simple yet highly effective benefits schemes which offer a ‘win win’ to both employer and employee. For the employer, low cost and easy to put in place; and for the employee, convenient, timely and, crucially, personal and relevant. We caught up with Heather Rogers, Senior Sales and Marketing Director, Hawk Incentives to discuss what employee rewards work from their experience.

“From our experience, personalised recognition and reward is the winning formula for a happy and motivated workforce. No two individuals are the same, so gone are the days of the one size fits all approach to reward – personalisation enables employers to make each individual employee feel that they are valued and of worth.

Back in 2001 we invented a whole new way for businesses to reward and incentivise employees and customers with the introduction of third-party gift cards – a reward tailored to their tastes and lifestyles. Fast forward just 18 years and while gift cards still have their place, the gift card of our time is the digital gift code. Through our Select platform, for example, an employer can send a unique code with an associated value straight to the employee’s smartphone, which can then be spent with a retailer of their choosing. The ultimate in convenience and simplicity all round, with the added benefit of digital codes being easy to personalise, configure and deliver at any scale.

A perfect example is a recent success story for our client, East Midlands Trains (EMT). EMT came to us looking for a simple-to-use solution which would allow them to reward any of their 2,400 employees working across multiple and diverse locations, some without access to digital channels or an EMT email address, while also giving staff the flexibility to choose their own rewards. Select was the ideal solution due to its ease of set up and management, and the vast choice of retailers available to recipients to redeem their reward. To date 2,500 digital Select codes have been issued to EMT employees as an on-the-spot ‘thank you’, for long service, or as part of local recognition schemes. The client considers it a “huge step forward”, broadening its scope for recognition considerably, and is continuing to use the programme throughout this year.

Another trend which continues to change the face of reward and incentive is the march of the prepaid card. Driven primarily by Generation Y, who are more open to adopting new technologies and moving away from traditional banks – note the rise of the likes of Monzo and Starling – coupled with apps increasingly using prepaid, the continued rise of e-commerce and move away from cash. It’s estimated that the number of prepaid cards in circulation in the UK reached 260 million in 2018, an increase of 33% over just five years. Double-digit growth is predicted moving forward, with the total number of prepaid cards in the UK looking set to increase by 15% between now and 2023.

Prepaid offers an ideal solution to giving a personal non-cash reward – issue your employees with a prepaid Mastercard®, load some credit, and they get the choice and flexibility to redeem their reward whenever and wherever Mastercard® is accepted. The appetite is definitely there – a survey which we recently commissioned confirmed the importance of on-the-spot rewards such as prepaid or gift cards, with 52% of employees finding them appealing, while 60% of part-time workers agreed with the sentiment that they want to receive more benefits which help them in their everyday life. Some prepaid cards also enable employees to get a return on their spending – cashback if you like. We are currently seeing rebates averaging around £216 per year based on a typical monthly spend of £300 on our Pure card – quite a nice bonus for your employee doing shopping they would have done anyway.

At a time when fostering employee loyalty is as important as ever and budgets are under continued pressure, these developments and more hold the key to a host of off-the-shelf personalised recognition schemes which are seamless to integrate and incredibly cost effective to run. Are you in?”