What Rewards do employees value the most? | Incentive & Motivation


What Rewards do employees value the most?

Debra Corey is Group Reward Director at Reward Gateway, the world’s leading provider of employee engagement technology.

Reward Gateway has helped more than 1,100 companies including IBM, American Express and Samsung to attract, engage and retain the best employees. The company’s products power employee communications, employee recognition, and employee benefits through a single employer-branded hub called SmartHub®.

Let’s face it, we all spend a lot of our company’s time and money developing and delivering reward programmes, but are they delivering VOI (value-on-investment) to our company and value to our employees? Value is absolutely critical – it’s about giving employees something of worth, something that is useful and important to them, which leads to engagement with your company. 

If there is no value, and thus no VOI and engagement, then you need to ask yourself ‘should it be part of my rewards package?’
What rewards do employees value? This is a question which many of us HR professionals are asking ourselves and our employees.  Employees value three things more highly than anything else: time, choice and money, so I have looked at each of these in detail to help you to assess what might work in your company.

My time

This category is about time, whether it’s time in the office or time away from the office.  Examples are:
● Flexible working
Flexible working and flexible hours are often considered the most valuable reward to many employees, giving them flexibility and choice in how they spend their time at work.  According to KPCB’s 2015 Internet Trends Report, flexible hours were considered the most valued benefit by 19 percent of those surveyed, even higher than the 14 percent who listed cash bonuses. This should not be a surprise; flexible working is a reward which sends two very strong messages to employees: first that we trust them and second that we treat them like adults, because we know they’ll get the work done.
● Holiday trading
Holiday trading, letting employees buy and/or sell holidays, is a much valued reward as it gives employees flexibility in how they spend their time away from work. It is a win for employees as it helps them achieve a better work-life balance, and a win for the company as it can provide cost savings when holidays are bought by employees.  According to the REBA-JLT 2016 Employee Benefits Shifts Research Report, it is an area set for big growth in 2016.

This category is about offering choice in respect to employees’ rewards, putting employees in the driver’s seat when it comes to making decisions.  Examples are:
● Voluntary Benefits
Voluntary benefits are highly valued by employees as they give them choice as to what is important to them.  The CIPD defines voluntary benefits as ‘those products and services that are available through an employer for purchase by employees, usually at a discount, out of their taxable income or through a salary sacrifice arrangement’.  Examples of salary sacrifice rewards are childcare vouchers, cycle-to-work, and car schemes.  The voluntary benefits market has really taken off over the past 10 years, mainly due to the demand from companies and employees.  Stay tuned for the March budget to see what happens regarding the fate of these valued rewards!
● Wellness According to research by US health insurance provider Humana and the Economist Intelligence unit, 67% of employee respondents said that participation in wellness programmes increases their engagement with their company’s mission and goals.  Employees value these as it gives them choice through access to a variety of wellness programmes, ranging from on-site gyms, to smoking cessation classes, to nutrition advice, to mental wellness support.  As with voluntary benefits, there has been a rise in the number and variety of wellness programmes offered, again driven by company and employee demand.

This category is about helping employees’ money go further, stretching every pound to be more efficient for them.  Examples are:
● Pensions
In a study conducted by PwC, pension contributions were the most highly valued reward – a surprising 65% put it at the top of their wish lists. This proves once and for all that although it’s not the hottest conversation topic, the value that employees place on future financial security hasn’t changed.

● Discount Platforms
Employees are always looking for ways to make their salary stretch further, so value any way that their company can help them with this. Discount platforms, such as Reward Gateway’s SmartSpending™, offers discounts on everything from the weekly food shop to special holidays, meaning that employees’ families are able to benefit too.  

These are just some examples of rewards that at many companies are seen as valuable in the eyes of employees.  The key to selecting the ‘right’ rewards for your company is to not only look at what others are doing, but look at what is right for your company.  By doing this, and thus designing a reward package unique to your company, you’ll have a better chance of scoring high with valuable rewards and engagement.

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