Research has found a great deal of benefits for incentivising and rewarding staff using vouchers over cash rewards, with the personal value of receiving rewards such as gift cards and vouchers typically far exceeding the actual cash rewards.
They’re also easy to use, and allow for guilt-free spending on something employees want rather than getting swallowed up on household bills.
However, to some, they can still seem a bit impersonal. A box-ticking exercise, bought in bulk, and left on employees’ desks with very little care and attention – it’s actually easy to see why staff may not be too thrilled about receiving one.
But the fault isn’t with the gift itself – it’s with the presentation. It doesn’t take much to turn your approach to using vouchers and gift cards for rewards into something altogether more exciting, and much more personal.
Does personalisation really matter?
There is a great deal of research available about how important it is to publicly acknowledge employees’ individual efforts at work, and how a simple “thank you” is often valued far more than a financial reward.
It shows that employers have actually put thought into recognising an employees’ hard work and achievements, rather than just providing the minimum requirements for staff rewards.
That’s we’re talking about when we say that you need to take a personal approach – using vouchers and gift cards as specific rewards for a specific person. Even if they’ve been bought in bulk, it’s important to deliver rewards in a way that makes those receiving them feel individually valued.
All about delivery
There are a few really simple steps for a more personal presentation of voucher and gift card-based rewards:
- Address the recipient by name. Whether that’s through voucher cheques that display each employee’s name or by delivering vouchers in a greetings card, the extra few seconds it takes to add a name shows that a reward hasn’t just come off an identical stack without any thought for the person receiving it.
- Hand it over in person. We’re not saying you need an awards ceremony every time – but by simply making the effort to stop by an employee’s desk to hand over rewards and gifts personally can go a long way to imbuing the simplest reward with greater value.
- Say thank you. Giving a reward implies a thank you – but while implication is one thing, actually saying thank you is another altogether. Writing for Harvard Business Review, Mark Goulston describes the three stages of the business Power Thank You: Thank them for something specific, acknowledge the effort and personal sacrifice they have made, and tell them what it means to you personally.
This doesn’t take a lot of effort – for larger organisations, devolve the responsibility to the heads of individual teams. Even digital rewards can be personalised – handing it over in person becomes more difficult, of course, but there’s nothing stopping you from talking to staff in person to give them the news, and saying thanks.
Showing familiarity, or providing choice?
In an ideal world of personalised rewards, each employee would receive an individually chosen gift relevant to their interests, hobbies and lifestyle. But, of course, that’s rarely possible once an organisation grows beyond a handful of employees.
But it is possible to provide personally selected gifts – with a massive range of vouchers available, there’s sure to be something for everyone. In our blog on rewarding employees at Christmas, we suggested choosing gift cards for commonly-visited bars and restaurants after work, or vouchers for DIY and furniture stores for employees you know are planning a move.
This requires a little bit more effort than a generic gift presented in a personal way – for larger organisations, it’ll require a degree of delegating to line managers to find out what staff are interested in.
Alternatively, provided you’re getting the presentation right as detailed above, providing employees with reward cards or vouchers that can be used with multiple retailers can be very effective – you don’t have to know their interests, and they receive a great deal of choice as to how they spend their reward. Amazon gift cards in particular are great for this, offering just about anything they could ask for.
We’ve mostly talked about using vouchers and gift cards as cost-effective ways to reward your teams en masse, such as at Christmas, or at the end of a financial year or sales quarter. However, these aren’t the only times when it’s appropriate to give employee gifts – individual rewards for employees-of-the-month, top sellers and so on are also good ways to encourage motivation and productivity, as well as offering staff recognition.
But for a truly personal touch, tying these rewards to individual staff milestones can be very effective. Whether it’s an employee birthday, rewards for long service, or following a wedding or new baby, these are opportunities to communicate appreciation directly to one employee, showing that their personal contribution to the organisation is important.
As part of a wider personalised benefits and rewards package
Rewards and benefits across the board are set to become increasingly personalised, with employees able to pick and choose from benefits, discounts, salary sacrifice options and more to ensure they’re receiving the support they need. Research from REBA has highlighted a great deal of movement towards this personalised approach – don’t let the simple things, like vouchers and gift cards, get left behind.