We all know that employee reward schemes benefit both employees and employers.  It has become such an accepted part of the workplace that it’s no longer about whether you should offer employee incentives, but more about what form they should take.

The array of reward schemes available can be dazzling, making it tricky to choose the right route for your company.  However, the very nature of an employee reward scheme is that it rewards your workforce, either as a unit or as individuals, and the benefit to the company is a welcome side-effect.  As such, shouldn’t it be primarily designed around your workforce?

For an employee to feel truly valued and therefore more motivated, a targeted form of personalised recognition will have the greatest impact and promote the most positive result. For too long monetary bonuses have been the automatic reward, and whilst these are surely appreciated, they dissolve into bank accounts and become lost in everyday expenses all too quickly.  In the current climate, the positive impact of a purely financial reward is minimal.

Companies need to recognise that each member of staff is unique, and what might motivate one won’t necessarily motivate all.  Choosing a scheme that offers flexibility to provide different rewards to different team members allows for these individualities. Not only does it prove that you know and understand your staff, it enables you to give a truly appreciated and therefore worthwhile reward, maximising impact. However, if cash is the reward of choice for a programme, then an alternative to make it more memorable and valued is to deliver it via a prepaid card. This means you are giving the recipient a personalised card (which can be sent or emailed to them with a personalised message) and they can reserve the money to spend on something extra special, rather than it just being incorporated into a monthly pay packet and then used to pay every-day bills and so be easily forgotten.

Work and home used to be very separate, but as technology advances, private worlds are becoming increasingly transparent and social media inevitably brings personal lives into the workplace.  It is impossible not to know more about an individual’s social life, personal preferences, likes and dislikes.  This certainly makes it easier for managers to learn and acknowledge an employee’s traits and as a result it could actually be considered a slight if something so obvious goes unrecognised.  There is no excuse for getting it wrong when personal information is so readily available.

Given that incentives and rewards improve performance and results, then getting it wrong could have a damaging effect, slowing development and demotivating staff.  Personalisation dramatically improves your chance of getting it right by working specifically to individual preferences.  You can take this a stage further and allow employees to choose their own incentives, whether working towards a small, easily accessible reward or large, long-term reward according to their own wants.  This also facilitates interaction when discussing options, and provides employers with an opportunity to share positive observations, reflecting on how the individual has benefited the company and adding to the ‘feel good’ factor.

Of course personalisation can reflect your brand values as well as your staff’s individualities.  Reward schemes can be shaped to encourage behaviours in line with company values.  This route needn’t exclude employee preferences, in fact as corporate reward schemes evolve, the more refined offerings can be personalised to reflect your company ethos whilst simultaneously catering to your employees.

As more sophisticated, bespoke reward schemes become available, employee expectations are rising and companies need to respond.  Managers must interact more and demonstrate not only appreciation, but personal recognition of the individual. Technology makes this easy, allowing for improved employee insight.  Companies simply need to choose the right reward scheme to apply their data to.

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