Director, Field Sales
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The mix of recognition, rewards and benefits that go beyond an annual bonus are no longer seen as a “cherry on the top”; they are now not only expected, but they are increasingly seen as a hygiene factor. Yet many companies still simply offer a “benefits buffet” which aims to cater for all employees, rather than a menu that reflects employees’ life stages, preferences and personal needs. Hardly a backdrop that enables improved advocacy and loyalty amongst the workforce.
This has resulted in a disparity between actual and perceived employee satisfaction. While many companies are already exploring how to use recognition and reward programmes to increase employee engagement, it’s clear that such initiatives are falling short of their intended objectives.
The good news is that the changes do not need to be huge to be effective; private healthcare or gym memberships still appeal across the board, and our Techscheme and Cyclescheme remain some of our most popular benefits. These two schemes allow employees to purchase technology equipment, bikes or e-bikes up front and pay back the business, tax free over a specific time frame. This 12 to 24-month financial commitment encourages employee commitment to the business over that time frame reducing churn, whilst increasing satisfaction levels. Indeed, 2019 has been a big year for the Cycle to Work Scheme as the cap of £1000 was removed by Government – meaning employees can now purchase a bike for up to as much value as their employer is willing to offer including the new e-bike derivatives. For us, it has resulted in the demand for Cyclescheme increasing exponentially. However, many of these broad ranging schemes are not individually tailored. And, let’s face it, many of us spend at least 37 hours of our week at work, not to mention the time it takes to commute. Consequently, it stands to reason that employers should seek to recognise employees as individuals, providing recognition, rewards and benefits that are truly valued. This could be flexible working, working from home once a week, or on-the-spot rewards that can be given in recognition of hard work or personal achievements. These personalised incentives demonstrate that employers care about and understand the individual needs and life-pressures of their workforce as a market of one.
Hugely important with what you offer is not trying to second guess what an employee would want. Instead make sure that the recognition or reward has instant choice and appeal baked into the proposition. Employees will want to use their reward in a multitude of different ways depending on their age and passion points. Hawk Incentives’ recognised many years ago that choice was paramount to a successful offering, so our reward cards have been created with choice in mind. One4all, for example, is a multi-store gift card, which is available online and via the Post Office in the UK. It can be used in over 55,000 stores nationwide, with over 130 brands. Select is a dynamic and scalable rewards platform, designed to incentivise and reward people in real time, by issuing personalised digital codes. Recipients can turn their codes into digital or physical gift cards. And the Voucher Store product is available as an online store where consumers and employees can purchase gift cards, digital codes and vouchers at discounted prices from over 70 well- known retail, leisure and entertainment brands.
As we move into 2020 and beyond, the demand to be treated as an individual will only increase - Millennials and Gen Z’ers, who were born with technology baked into their lives, want more innovative ways to integrate their work into their everyday lives. Which means that companies need to alter how they engage their employees to meet this change.
Moreover, expectations from this digital savvy group of employees are high; they look for employers who have an authentic purpose behind their business mission and vision as well as well thought out, relevant rewards and benefits. Younger employees don’t simply want purpose-led behaviour or to be given something back: they expect it. It’s not just a trend; it’s more of an evolution, which means we, as recognition, reward and benefits providers, need to be nimble and ahead of the curve to ensure our products are relevant and resonate.
This employee evolution is pushing businesses to really think about how they engage their employees. When well-constructed, employee engagement initiatives not only attract first-class talent, they also act as a tool to instil employee loyalty, cutting down on expensive churn, increasing advocacy for you and your brand and contributing positively to the overall well-being of the business.
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