A recent study has shown that more than 94% of SMEs gift rewards to employees and a third (34%) attribute improved employee retention to cultivating a culture of rewards.
New research from American Express® also shows that half (51%) say that motivating their workforce is the main reason for doing so. Creating this positive culture has a direct long term benefit for smaller firms – a third (34%) say they see enhanced retention rates due to passing on rewards accumulated by the business.

The research indicates that SMEs vary in how they gift rewards among their teams. Over a third (38%) of employers offer rewards specifically to high performing employees, such as ‘staff member of the month’, whereas nearly a quarter (23%) make rewards available to all employees. 21% focus their company’s benefits structure on long-standing members of staff.

Employees of SMEs are also feeling the benefit of working for companies that offer rewards. Nine in 10 (89%) stated they have been gifted a reward of some kind by their employer. Almost half of personnel (46%) say this makes them feel truly valued, whereas 44% felt their company was rewarding their hard work and dedication. In addition, a third (33%) admitted they felt motivated to work harder.

Jose Carvalho, Senior Vice-President at American Express said: “SMEs are reaping the benefits of actively showing employees appreciation for their hard work. A simple thank you goes a long way and will not only make employees feel good, but will benefit a business in the process.

“Our study also shows that a number of SMEs are gifting rewards accrued through spending on a credit card, such as high street vouchers (46%).”

Additionally, the research found that even employees of SMEs who do not receive rewards (6%), still recognise the benefits of a rewards-based culture. Two in five of these employees (42%) think staff members receiving rewards is a positive, while more than a third (37%) believe rewards would make them work harder.

Tips for actioning a good reward programme

· Rewards are an asset – when going through the process of employing new members of staff, highlight how rewards are available to employees. This will be seen as an added benefit to prospective staff members and may encourage more talent into your business
· It’s about what you say – when you present a reward to an employee, be sure to also personally congratulate them. While the gift will be appreciated, often it’s the personal conversation which lasts longer in people’s memory
· Build up to it – identifying the right opportunity to present a reward to employees is important and end-of-year presentations are a great moment to do so. This enables you to highlight what success looks like and the employee will receive recognition from the rest of the company too
· Maximise the benefits from your business spend – using a business credit or charge card that earn rewards, such as the American Express Gold Business Card*, means you can accrue rewards from your business spending, which in turn can be gifted to employees
· Employee input – listening to your employees is essential and often overlooked. Speak to them regularly to understand if there is a certain reward which they would benefit from the most. This not only allows them to input into the rewards system, but if they have expressed a desire for a specific reward, knowing it is available to them could enhance their motivation to work even harder to achieve it.

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