How important is reward personalisation?

The big debate: Does personalisation of rewards make for a better reward experience and, if so, what are best ways to give rewards that say ‘from me, to you’?

Love2reward: “The ability to brand cards and carriers to the identity of the client or a particular promotion is an extremely powerful tool. The point of a reward or incentive is to create the most positive connection possible between the brand or company and the recipient, because that’s what generates the most gratitude and loyalty. At the bottom end of the scale is a cash reward because it’s so anonymous and difficult to maintain that connection. To a lesser degree this is true of merchandise too, but a branded gift card comes out at the top of the scale because the branding is seen every time the card is used to redeem and so this strong, positive association is made and then accumulates over time.”

 The White Company: “A ‘from me to you’ feel can show that employers are being extra thoughtful, which can create a real feelgood factor. We can personalise printed presentation materials to accompany our vouchers if that’s what the client wants – there are additional costs involved but they tend to only take up a small percentage of the overall reward budget. Some feel that it is worth that extra investment but, regardless, we work with our clients to decide on the best approach for them. If they want something and it fits with their objective, budget and target audience, we’ll work with them to create the reward that suits.”

PizzaExpress for Business: “Our clients can buy bulk e-codes and send them out via email direct to the recipient’s inbox. This is the modern-day equivalent of receiving a personal letter and it gives them the ability to easily and quickly personalise a gift and instantly recognise the employee for a job well done. This can have a great impact on that person, as they are being rewarded as they sit back down at their desk, having been thanked in person. That’s going to have the desired effect and you’re not diluting the good feeling.”

Filmology: “Personalisation of rewards undoubtedly adds value, going a long way to make employees feel appreciated. However, in today’s economic climate it is often assumed that it’s not possible to personalise rewards, because of the cost implications or strained resources and, therefore, adequate time may not be available to select tailored rewards. However, the delivery of cost-effective, personalised rewards is achievable. Experiential rewards are appealing, enjoyable and create memories; all of which generate positive associations with the employer among employees. Cinema ticket vouchers are a financially viable and popular solution. They are personalised because the recipient has the flexibility to select the film that appeals to their taste. Furthermore, the ability to share it with a friend enhances the personalisation. The ideal personalised reward or incentive provides the recipient with an opportunity to choose exactly what they want, which is why a cinema ticket voucher, which is simple to administer from the employer perspective and easily redeemable for the recipient, is perfect.”

Protravel: “Companies are made up of individuals and, therefore, wherever possible any form of recognition and praise should be addressed directly to the recipient. In most cases, the congratulatory message is as important as the reward itself and so a hand-written thank-you note should ideally accompany the reward. In my view, a hand-written message is worth 10 times that of an email.
“Ideally the gift or reward should reflect the recipient’s interests – buying business gifts should be no different than buying for a relative or friend. However, if it’s not possible to personalise due to cost and time restraints, then a flexible reward such as travel is ideal as it appeals to everyone. Our Dream Ticket, for example, enables recipients to design their own perfect getaway. This takes the pressure of selecting something suitable away from the employer and ensures the employee has a truly memorable reward that is perfect for them.”

The Voucher Shop: “Rewards that are personalised are more effective as they show the employer cares about the individual and has taken the time to put thought into the reward on offer to ensure it is something the recipient would like to receive. This makes it more memorable and, therefore, more effective over the long term. Personalisation can take many different forms, from the simple inclusion of a card or letter with a gift, to presentation in person by a line manager where they give personal thanks to the recipient. It can also be achieved by giving the recipient choice over their reward by using gift vouchers or cards that enable them to select something personal, whether it’s a meal out, an item of jewellery or a city break. Vouchers and gift cards can be given to recipients in a variety of ways, which give them a personal touch – branded presentation wallets, personalised cards or gift boxes. The only limits on the creativity of the presentation come down to time and budget.”

 Sodexo: “A reward has to be relevant and timely to the employee and their achievements. If the reward isn’t appropriate it can have a negative influence on motivation. Our newly launched online gifting solution introduces an individual approach to gifting. The Reward Portal makes rewarding personalised as it allows the manager to reward or recognise their employees by either choosing from a broad selection of gifts or giving an e-voucher. Every gift awarded through The Reward Portal is personal as it is individually picked from the catalogue and thus specifically tailored to the employee. The e-voucher option is also personal as it allows the manager to choose a template that relates to the behaviour being rewarded, such as ‘well done’ or ‘congratulations’.

“Choosing the right reward is important because it can either enhance the symbolic value of reward if well chosen, or undermine it if not appropriately matched to the employee’s personality and lifestyle: recognising that people have different needs, priorities and tastes according to their age and lifestyle is fundamental. An essential element to personalised gifting is to create a consistent reward programme across the whole company, with clear guidelines that will ensure everyone knows what they need to achieve in order to be rewarded. If the reward behaviour isn’t clearly defined, employees can easily become demotivated.”

New Look: “Personalisation demonstrates that the employer has gone to extra effort to recognise the individual. Choosing the brand and then putting the recipient’s name to it is a good thing and something that needs to happen more often – if a gift is too generic it can create a negative feeling. Even if the giver just plans to present it in a simple printed wallet or card, it can make all the difference.”

Edenred: “We can divide this topic into two parts: personalising the delivery and personalising the reward itself. Personalising the communication, the delivery, the presentation of the reward to the recipient is equally important in all programmes. The geographical spread of the audience determines the level of personalisation with delivery; an employee programme enables reward presentation. For a channel programme, this may not always be viable. Personalising the actual reward establishes the real value. The trick is to embrace the incentive identity and consider aligning the reward to the programme theme. Alternatively, totally tailor the reward and establish concierge-type delivery of reward.

“Taking the time to deliver and present the reward in a tailored way increases its prestige and has the added benefit of establishing greater awareness among recipients. Personalisation in a reward programme also has the effect of ‘completing the campaign’. A strong programme identity and corporate message carried consistently from launch to reward reinforces the brand association. How is this possible? By taking the time at the outset to understand the audience, their goals and aspirations, their motivations. Getting to know the audience and what ‘makes the tick’, increases the likelihood that the rewards offered will be of relevance and will engage and motivate the target audience.”

Asda Money: “We aim to help people personalise the cards in different ways: By occasion – customers can choose a card to suit the occasion; by image, photo or video – they can add images that are relevant to the giver or the recipient, or the gift in mind e.g. music; or by message – the giver can send a personalised message too. We’ve recently launched e-gifting to our customers, which allows them to send a virtual gift card and it’s here that we have taken personalisation to the next level. Customers can select from a wide variety of themes for their e-gift and then can choose to add a photo, either one of their own or one that we have provided, or they can attach a 30-second video. The e-gift is then emailed to the recipient within seconds – the perfect personalised gift that they can then print off and redeem in any Asda store. This service is already available to our customers and we would ideally like to launch e-gifting to our B2B customers at some point in 2013.”

House of Fraser: “Personalisation is important, particularly from the perspective of something like a long-service award – if I were due to receive such a reward for many years of service, I’d like my employer to buy a gift that suits my likes and tastes. There’s a great flexibility in our range of choice, as we have something for everyone, so we can provide a relevant gift, made personal because it’s appreciated. Gift cards provide something that everyone to make use of, especially as we’re giving the recipient the opportunity to experience the House of Fraser brand, identify with it and indulge themselves with a gift from our huge selection of brands and products. But you have to hope that the employer is reinforcing this by making the reward experience personal to the recipient as well, with perhaps a speech, a signed card or a bunch of flowers.”

Red Letter Days for Business: “Many of our clients like to personalise the rewards they give, so our presentation wallets and gift boxes have been designed to enable businesses to include company logos and branded messages, sleeves, certificates and handwritten inserts. We’ve found that although we offer electronic versions of our vouchers and Lifestyle vouchers, they tend to be favoured for incentive schemes rather than reward programmes because, in the case of the latter, our clients prefer to physically present gifts to recipients. There’s a lot of value generated in publicly recognising a person’s good work and being able to hand a gift over in person, complete with a personalised message of thanks, goes a long way.”

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