Archive for the ‘Employee Incentives & Engagement’ Category

Motivate Employees through Connection

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Motivate your employees by showing them that they are a connected, critical part of your organization. Connecting employees to the core of the organization builds loyalty among employees and builds rapport between your workforce and your end customers. Here are a few ways to motivate employees to ensure your customers stick around for years to come:

  • Performance Management: Support employees by providing clear goals for their performance and holding them to those goals. Provide honest, candid feedback to employees and when employees do exceed expectations and give their best to your end customers it is important to reward the desired behavior. Providing spot rewards at the time of exemplary behavior like small denomination gift cards to popular retailers like Crutchfield, CVS/pharmacy and The Cheesecake Factory are a simple way to say “thank you” to employees.
  • Open Communication: 360 degrees of communication is key. Managers should obviously evaluate employees but it is critical to motivate employees through participation in the organizational process. Allowing employees to evaluate their managers and the organizational values is critical to establishing open communication that will create long term employee retention and loyalty.
  • Job Role: Establishing a connection between an individuals role within the organization and the organizations role within the industry is a great way to give employees a sense of purpose. Employees who have purpose will be motivated at work, establishing loyalty and longevity.

For more ways to motivate your employees by connecting them to the heart of your organization check out this article from Ahwatukee Foothills News.

Study Showing the Continued Growth of Gift Cards

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

This topic is really exciting for us at GiftCard Partners. In the past we’ve reference the growing popularity of non-cash incentives in the marketplace, highlighting statistics from the 2013 study from Incentive Federation Inc. and Aspect Market Intelligence‘s Incentive Market Study. The 2013 study touched on the popularity of non-cash incentives, stating that 74% of businesses use non-cash options to recognize and reward key audiences in the form of incentive travel, merchandise, or gift cards.

Now new research by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Aspect Market Intelligence, conducted for the Incentive Gift Card Council,  is showing how non-cash incentives (specifically gift cards) are still hot, hot, hot. The study highlights the continued preference for gift cards in a variety of programs, with the largest companies using them at a rate of 56%.

So what are these gift cards being used for? Of the companies using gift cards, 67% are using them for employee incentives, 38% for sales incentives, 30% for customer rewards, and 8% are allocated to channel incentives.

As gift cards continue to be a staple for rewards and incentives, with goals to foster motivation or drive engagement, acquisition, retention or loyalty, it’s safe to say they’re here to stay.

Does your company use gift cards in any of their programs? If so, we’d love to here more about how. And if you’re looking to add gift cards to your programs check out our gift card brands here.

Employee Wellness Programs, Positive Results from America’s Top Universities

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The days of sneaking to the break room to meet those afternoon cookie cravings may be long gone. Employee wellness programs have no doubt grown in popularity and some of America’s top universities, like Cornell, Stanford, Oklahoma State, and The University of Alabama are no exception. Seven universities in all were surveyed for their employee wellness programs and chosen based on their strong, established employee wellness programs in the NIRSA report, Employee Wellness Programs: Collegiate Recreation Trends Research.

The Motivation: The study showed that four primary concerns motivated the establishment of their employee wellness programs: health insurance costs, restructuring, employee productivity, and general improvement of health.

The Components: Similar components were found in many of the universities stemmed from common goals like increasing participation, fostering lifestyle changes, smoking cessation and education. Components included everything from health risk screenings and assessments, wellness workshops, wellness websites and newsletters, release time, physical activity, to smoking cessation efforts and incentives.

Implementation and Engagement: While resource allocation varied across all campuses, most campus-based employee wellness programs were not directly integrated into benefits packages, even though funding sources may be linked. Populations that were targeted also varied across schools; some campuses focused on those least likely to participate, like staff from facilities, while others focused on deans and department heads. Depending on the scope of the program, marketing efforts were also implemented at some schools. To increase participation in all wellness programs, incentive structures were put into place in virtually all schools, with anything from high cash rewards at the end of the year, to gift card rewards for drawing winners and successful program completion.

Overall, the results from the universities surveyed was generally positive. Both Stanford and Cornell characterized their employee wellness programs as “a way of life,” and all of the schools cited the data they’ve taken from surveys and assessments as a basis for measuring employee wellness program success. Positive results were also shown in key areas; in return on investment, health outcomes, job performance, effects on campus, and program sustainability.

Time to start looking closer at your employee wellness program? The findings from these universities can be applied to any corporate wellness program for any organization. Take a closer look at the full NIRSA report here.

Skills Gap Leads to Workforce Investment

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

thank youAs technology continues to advance and increase efficiency across a variety of industries, organizations continue to slow their hiring rates. Surprisingly enough, it’s not always due to a slow economy or lack of growth, but simply that technological infrastructure is preventing companies from needing as many people. Additionally, for the positions employers are looking to fill, there is often a skills gap between the candidates available and what the employer is looking for. So even for the limited positions available, employers can’t find qualified replacements for their departing staff. The solution? Employee retention, invest in people so they stick around.

A recent study from Ken Esch and PwC Private Company Services notes that 20% of employers surveyed feel pressure to raise salaries, partially to retain employees. 56% of employers indicated that hiring remains a priority for the company, given the skills gap and the increased difficulty to fill positions with the level of talent and skill set required. However, most compelling is that a whopping 84% of employers surveyed are making substantial workforce investments, ranging from training programs, to talent retention benefits like workplace rewards programs.

Workforce investments that recognize employee effort, motivation and increased production are great ways to increase employee retention. Using small denomination gift cards to retailers like Subway, Crutchfield or even Xbox Live are effective ways to reward employees, with trophy value that creates a lasting impression.

For more information on the skill gap and workforce investment head over to Forbes here.

Employee Engagement Reaches New High

Monday, August 18th, 2014

iStock_000021022342LargeAccording to a study released last week, employee engagement has reached levels that it has not experienced since 2009. 68% of employees are now engaged based on the survey of 400,000 employees at nearly 5,000 various organizations. The average increase over the last 3 years has been about .43%. If this rate continues, employee engagement could be back to 2007 levels, which was 70.6%.

Throughout the past 7 years the same top three items have had the greatest impact on employee engagement:

  1. Committed Leadership – those leaders who show they are committed in making their organization a great place to work.
  2. Trust – Employees trust the leadership and feel that their leaders are setting their organization on the right course. Trust helps solidarity in achieving common organizational goals.
  3. Future Success – Employees truly feel their organization will be successful in the future. Employees are confident in their future with an organization and gain a sense of security and trust.

Now let’s discuss in more detail…

Committed leadership helps employees build confidence in their leaders and in turn, their organization. Leaders should maintain regular communication with their employees, follow through on plans and promises, listen to employee feedback, demonstrate their commitment to the success of their organization, and cultivate a work environment that employees genuinely enjoy.

Valuing employees leads to trust. Prepare employees with the tools they need for success and the power to accomplish their jobs effectively, incorporate a recognition program to ensure that all employees are being recognized properly as well as giving the employees the power to recognize one another, and foster employee growth and development by providing promotional opportunities when available.

When it comes to the future, regularly communicate your organizations plans, include employees on any goal setting processes, make sure to follow through and communicate when goals are achieved, share market and industry trends, and also share any competitor insight with employees.

In addition, over the last three years, companies with more engaged employees also had improved employee retention rates. Employees at companies where retention improved responded more favorably than those at companies where retention either stayed the same or decreased.  This supports the ongoing fact that there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and employee retention. Also, profits have been higher in companies with higher employee engagement and employee retention. As engagement increases, businesses become more successful, more employees become engaged, profits increase, engagement becomes even more successful, etc…the process is amazingly cyclical!

You can download the Quantum Workplace 2014 Employee Engagement Trends report here and read all the great details!

3 Points in Favor of Employee Wellness Programs

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Employee Wellness ProgramEmployee wellness programs work well for a lot of reasons. While they may not be the most scientifically measurable, metrics-based programs, there’s still a lot left to learn about employee wellness programs? These programs are relatively new in the space of human resources and employee benefits and while we don’t claim to know everything, here’s some great points you may find useful:

  1. Healthy employees take fewer sick days. According to the CDC, a healthy weight man misses 3 days of work a year due to illness, where an obese man misses 5. Does 2 days annually make or break a career? Probably not, but if I were a business owner and I knew that employees at a healthy weight were more consistently attendant at work, I would work to help them achieve their weight goals.
  2. People like wellness programs. Access to exercise, convenient health screenings and support or work-out groups bring people together and are seen as an employee perk. Providing access to and support for the tools employees need to get healthy and maintain an healthy lifestyle are a great way to boost morale. Give the people what they want, because the comparative cost can be high.
  3. Measurable benefits do exist. One meta-analysis of a 42 program set of employee wellness programs revealed that at the onset of the wellness programs the organizations experienced a 25% reduction in absenteeism and health costs as well as a 32% drop in worker’s comp and disability claims. These results help to prove the point, employee wellness programs are here to stay and can make a positive impact on your workforce.

If you still need convincing about why employee wellness programs work (or some more skepticism about what we still don’t know) check out this article from Fast Company.

The Downside to Financial Incentives

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Financial incentives have become an organizational norm.  Paying employees based on their contributions has become a fairly standard practice in every business.  It has also become something that employees have grown to expect, especially high level executives.  But how can an employee trust a incentive plan where executives are achieving financial rewards while lower-level employees have gone without pay raises for significant periods of time?

Employees that do not trust a financial incentive plan, or the way the plan is run, will be unhappy with it no matter how much the plan pays out.  Incentive plans that have no link to performance can have an extremely negative impact on a corporation.  An incentive can only work if the person who is receiving the incentive can affect their performance.

To make things simple, Hay Group has distilled all the research they’ve done around incentive pay into the table below:

Financial Incentives

Table Courtesy of:

GiftCard Partners, Inc. provides many different gift cards to help support your non-cash incentive plans, including CVS/pharmacy®, Whole Foods Market, AutoZone, and more!

Invest in Employee Training

Friday, August 8th, 2014

The title pretty much covers it for this one, so if you have to stop here (which we at GiftCard Partners DON’T recommend) you’ve gotten (part of) the point. For most organizations, employees are the biggest and greatest asset. Invest in them! Employees matter, and employee training produces ROI like any other investment.

Here are three ways to invest in your employees.

  • Superior quality output translates to your clients. Training your employees to do their absolute best will mean that your workforce will provide the absolute best to your clients.
  • Optimize your biggest investments. You spend a lot of money paying employees and training them, making sure they do their best. Provide professional development opportunities like internal training or external conferences. This ensures your best investment is at the top of their game and have all the latest knowledge related to your industry.
  • Reduce downtime. Ensure employees are busy and challenged. When employees are pushed to their limits, they set new limits, which makes your business better. Rewarding employees for working hard with small denomination gift cards to popular retailers like The Limited or The Children’s Place is a great way to let your employees know you recognize their effort.

Train employees to translate your success to the long-term. Increasing the quality of your output will be noticed by clients, and the investment you put in will raise employee retention and loyalty.

Employee Motivation Key to Employee Satisfaction

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

We all learned in Psych 101 about Maslow’s hierarchy. The same way that you can’t worry about your safety if you can’t breathe, employees can’t focus on their work if there is no employee motivation. When employees become stagnant in their positions they start to focus on everything but the task at hand, not to mention focusing on finding other more motivating job opportunities.

Below are Brian Ward’s, co-founder of Affinity Consulting and Training Inc., seven key motivators. Employee motivation fits these criteria in a unique way.

LinkedIn Employee Motivators

Brian Ward, What Motivates People?


Apply these seven key motivators to the design of your team’s work structure. For example, give employees control over the way projects get done, as long as deadlines are met on time. Ensure the output of employee effort is meaningful to the employee and their goals. Provide opportunities for advancement. Ensure that you’re giving appropriate praise and rewards for a job well done. These relatively small adjustments in the way your team gets their jobs done will not only harvest employee motivation that will lead to greater productivity, it will also ensure that employees remain satisfied with their positions and loyal to your organization. Employee motivation leads to satisfaction and employee loyalty.

Employee Activism: Encouraging Employees to Become Brand Ambassadors

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Employee activism is a new movement that goes beyond customer satisfaction and employee engagement, and is becoming an underlying foundation in successful companies.  Many employees are defending their employers from criticism and acting as brand ambassadors for their companies, both online and offline.

It all begins with social media.  Many companies are intrigued about ways to enhance employee engagement, but highly concerned about an employee’s use of social media, especially during the work day.  But rather than limiting an employee’s media usage, companies should be promoting the benefits and encouraging their employees to become activists for the brand they represent.

Many companies still remain somewhat skeptical, and not without reason. Reasons for caution include valid concerns about privacy, cybersecurity, productivity, and actions by rogue employees that could go viral. This behavior is the exception to the rule and most companies already take a lot of care in building their culture with people they can trust , so why not trust them to advocate as well?

Here are some tips to successfully build employee activism:

  1. Start with your own internal communications – having “sharing” buttons on articles and announcements that are delivered to employees demonstrates a trust that these articles can be shared, while also providing employees with an easy way to share it.
  2. Strong leadership -  Employee engagement starts at the top.  In order to have strong employee engagement, employers need to articulate what their company stands for.
  3. Content is king – Compelling and engaging content is what employees are looking to share.  Infographics, video, and print can bring media to life.  Today, every company is a “media” company and every employee can be a storyteller.
  4. Rules of engagement – create a social media policy and make it a part of the employee orientation process.  That way employees are clear on what is and what is not allowed.  Make your guidelines clear so that employees will have the confidence in being corporately responsible both online and off.

Research is showing that those companies that allow access to social media, as opposed to having strict restrictions on usage, are viewed more positively by their employees in social media outlets.  Building employee activists when business is good forms a solid foundation of ambassadors ready to defend your company when times get tough.  The real risk is not empowering your employees to speak positively on your behalf.

Read Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism from Weber Shandwick here!