The future of employee rewards in a hybrid world


Colin Eglington, CEO of Simply Thank You believes that rewards are the best way to keep hold of employees. As the founder of a business that works with some of the largest companies and institutions in the world offering reward solutions, such as Virgin Media, Sky, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest, the upcoming launch of their latest product – onecode – is a way to capture the increasing need to instant rewards that have almost no limitations on choice.


We caught up with Colin to understand how rewards can thrive in a hybrid work environment.


The world of work is changing and a hybrid model means a demise in how people used to work. Is this a good or a bad change?


The change in how we are working has been a long time coming. We are a technical business and we have seen technology offer advancements well beyond the old model of working, the long commute, the face-to-face meetings. Now is a chance for all that to change.



How are rewards changing?


For us, the launch of the onecode, the ability to give a alphanumeric code from a branded site that is then personalised to the recipient and exchanged for thousands of gifts, experiences, holidays, eCodes or gift cards couldn’t come at a better time.


Employees who receive one use the site to enter their own address details, so delivery can be made to home. They might pick a digital reward and use it on a lunch break. Importantly, they can start using the onecode right away, and employers who are offering onecode are able to announce it as an extra perk or benefit, rather than carrying on with the same old ways of recognising people. They can also save the code and build the balance for something really special.


What problems were there in reward and recognition before the pandemic?


I believe most rewards are a good thing – it’s just the consistency and delivery has been off. For years the gift card in a drawer has been hailed as the ideal way to spot reward. While there are some amazing retailers and open loop cards that give choice, it has never quite managed to hit the spot and offer universal appeal. Offer one retail card and one employee thinks ‘well, that’s a 20 minute drive from me.’ They never use it. The act of reward has fallen short.


Then there are tangible gifts, but again, these have been prescriptive, or unbranded.

What we are doing with the onecode is offering one way to do everything.


The recipient can get a gift they pick for the recipient– but it’s sent branded in the companies’ wrapping and ribbon. The experience is much more powerful. They might send a £50 value, but it’s an ‘ACME INC” branded value, or a physical ACME inc gift card the user gets– and this takes them to a branded site where they can pick to get a gift card from 100’s of retailers that they really do love, or spend it instantly, or save it. It’s a way for even small companies to have their very own reward platform. It’s beyond white labelling, the tech is really something. When the user logs on it can greet them – ‘Hello Michael, you’ve been award 50 star points for your work on the tender. Your balance is now 500 points.” How great is that? It makes the rewarding feeling go on and on.


How should employers be rewarding in the new hybrid model?


For us we believe it’s all about ongoing moments. We have all felt that lull, that you are working hard but perhaps not seen by everyone in a way you used to be. Then you have the Chancellor talking about not being visible and there is that worry. The annual event isn’t going to cut it anymore. Using an online reward platform and having firm data and rules about how you reward and when, as well as a budget and a process means no one should be left out. Managers will be tasked to identify that great behaviour, shout about it and offer a great treat.


An online platform does take away the ‘gift on the desk’ – but we believe by making it possible to send a reward in seconds on a platform to someone’s email or mobile, that’s only going to increase the volume of rewards sent. That means happier employees and happier managers.


It creates a culture of thanks, and that’s what’s going to keep people working well.


Is reward spend on a decline due to the pandemic?


Absolutely not, and in fact during the pandemic we had a huge increase in orders. People wanted to recognise their staff and that might have been overlooked before. It levelled the playing field. Suddenly the CEO was at home with his young children and had more empathy. There was recognition on a grander scale. The idea is to keep that momentum going and ensure companies are working towards their own goals.


I listened to a great podcast with Mary Portas the other day and her recognition that it’s the end of businesses who don’t have purpose, or to chase profit at any cost. The businesses that value the environment, their people and have a philosophy beyond ‘more cash’ will be the ones who win.



What is the future for the onecode?


The technical abilities are unmatched and now we just want as many people to see the onecode as possible. It is not just for HR teams, but marketing managers, CEO’s who want to run switch incentives, win backs, any touch point with another human that needs a thank you, apology or a ‘sweetener’ can benefit from the onecode. Incentives are another big area internally, and we want to ensure people can save up for points and prizes that they really want. Not everyone is as comfy with travel, not everyone’s focus is on that big gadget. Some are, but the point is, it’s now about total choice.


We believe businesses don’t need multiple platforms for HR rewards, customer apology and recognition, win backs and incentives. As the name suggests, the onecode can do it all.