HR Incentive Trends for 2023

Workplace changes of the past several years are now becoming permanent in 2023.

Rising costs, a looming recession, and a chaotic labor market are just some factors already influencing HR incentive trends in 2023.

HR professionals realize that they must do more with less, yet employee stress is at an all-time high, and engagement is approaching all-time lows.

Here are some trends that have emerged in late 2022 and are sure to be part of savvy organizations’ strategies in the coming year.

Unmotivated call center employees falling asleep on the job

Learn how organizations like yours are using incentives to drive engagement in 2023

Here's what to expect this year:

Incentives work

Regular Incentives

Regular incentives offer a flexible, cost-effective, and creative alternative that can keep employees motivated and engaged. Here are a few reasons why smaller employee incentives may be more beneficial:

Increased Frequency: With smaller incentives, employers can offer rewards more frequently to help to keep employees motivated and engaged. 

Greater Flexibility: Smaller incentives can be tailored to individual employees’ needs and preferences, which increases their perceived value. 

Lower Cost: Smaller incentives are less expensive and permanent as compared to salary increases or other perks that may demotivate if they can’t be sustained long-term.

Better Tracking and Evaluation: With smaller incentives, it is easier to track and evaluate their effectiveness, which can help employers to adjust their incentives as needed. 

Personalized Recognition: Personalized recognition can also help to build stronger relationships between employees and their peers and management.

Why Smaller Incentives Work

  • Research has long shown that smaller rewards can be more effective in motivating deeper and lasting behavior change.
  • Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that smaller incentives may work better because they are perceived as internally motivated.
  • External rewards like big discounts and free prizes can undermine intrinsic motivation and the behaviors you seek to reinforce.

Psychologists have long known that while bigger rewards can indeed motivate action, smaller rewards can be more effective at generating deeper, lasting change by inspiring larger shifts in favorable attitudes and positive emotions.

The more employees conclude that their actions were driven by external rewards, the less likely they are to change their internal mindset. If the reward is bigger, they are more likely to conclude it was for the benefit of the reward itself. But if the reward is smaller, it’s more likely tied to enjoying the action.

Read more by Douglas Van Praet at Psychology Today

Employees sitting around a coffee table having pizza. One of the many HR Incentive Trends
A woman taking time to exercise

A Focus on Stress

Nearly 60% of employees reported that they are stressed at their jobs every day, according to a 2023 Gartner HR practice report in the Harvard Business Review.

The threat of recession and potential workforce reductions create further uncertainty for employees, ultimately resulting in less engaged, uncertain, and unsatisfied employees. Disengaged workers have a negative effect on productivity, company image, and morale.

Consider adding stress and wellness-focused gift cards to your mix:

Spa and Massage Gift Cards:  Zeel, Elements Massage, or local spas offer gift cards that can be used for a relaxing massage, facial, or other spa treatments.

Yoga and Fitness Gift Cards: Use a local gift or Visa gift cards for yoga, Pilates, or fitness classes.

Retail Therapy Gift Cards: Amazon, Target, or local bookstore gift cards that can be used to purchase books, clothing, or other items to help relieve stress.

Experience Gift Cards: Brands such as Groupon, LivingSocial, or Airbnb offer gift cards for experiences such as wine tastings, cooking classes, hot air balloon rides, and other stress-reducing activities.

Nature and Adventure Gift Cards: Brands such as REI, Columbia or local parks offer gift cards for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, or kayaking.

Beauty and Self-Care Gift Cards: Brands such as Sephora, Ulta, or local salons offer gift cards for beauty treatments, haircuts, or makeup services.

With over 85,000+ National, International, and Local gift card options, Merchandise, and Payments you curate a dazzling selection of stress-focused choices for even the most diverse audiences.

Engagement and Community

Employee engagement efforts accelerated in the second half of 2022, with continued growth in 2023 as managers and HR professionals struggle to improve employee commitment and involvement.  

Almost any activity can help drive employee communication, interaction, and engagement: 

Employee Rewards: Gift & Merchandise cards can be offered as a reward for outstanding performance, meeting goals, or as part of an employee recognition program.

Happy Hour: Provide pre-paid Visa gift cards to managers or individual employees to gather at their favorite spot for an informal after-work get-together over food or drinks.

Onboarding: Provide Coffee or Lunch to new employees as a welcome gift to help them get started on the right foot and feel valued.

Employee Appreciation Gifts: Offer a choice of gift cards or merchandise during special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries to show employees they are appreciated.

Events for Employees: Trivia, speed networking, team building exercises, volunteer opportunities.

Employee Engagement Surveys: Use gift cards as a thank you for employees who complete engagement surveys, providing valuable feedback on how to improve the workplace.

Employee Wellness Activities: Offer gift cards as incentives for employees who participate in wellness activities, promoting a healthy work-life balance. Golf, bowling, hikes, etc.

A highly engaged employee is more likely to be productive, motivated, and dedicated to their job.

One of the big HR Incentive Trends is sending employees out together at a restaurant
A group of three employees sitting bored and unmotivated

Why use Incentives to Drive Engagement?

  • Employee retention is critical to the success of your company, and hiring is costly.
  • The great resignation is still top of mind.
  • When employees feel valued, they perform better.
  • Employees who know they’re contributing positively to the organization feel more valued.
  • Employees who see the results of their contributions and are acknowledged for them will work harder.

Save time and money

Thousands of HR professionals use TruCentive to recognize employees around the world. Whether it’s a symbol of appreciation for the entire organization, enabling managers, or focusing on specific individuals, we make it easy and cost-effective.

  • The average U.S. claim rate on digital employee incentives under $100 is eighty-four percent. That means you are paying a 16% premium on every incentive. With TruCentive, you only pay for claimed incentives, no waste!
  • Last year, organizations that used incentives to engage and recognize employees on National Employee Recognition Day spent under four people hours for planning and budgeting, yet over 36 hours managing the delivery process. With TruCentive, we’ll help you design and deliver recognition for one to ten thousand employees that will delight your recipients in less than two hours!
  • We make it easy; we’ll help you design your delivery and message, add your logo, and personalize your design. When it’s time, we can help you load and delivery your list and show you how easy it is to add that new employee or change a delivery!
Happy HR professional in the hallway smiling after completing the delivery of incentives for employee appreciation day

Ready to design something brilliant?

Schedule a free design session

Our design sessions are the perfect way to show you how TruCentive can help you realize your rewards, gifts, or payout goals in a real-world scenario, building a complete project with everything from your logo, design options, and messaging to incentive selection, deliveries, and reminders.

When we’re done, you’ll:

  • Possess a solid grasp of constructing your project.

  • Have a comprehensive understanding of best practices for incentive delivery.

  • Learn the secrets of the incentives industry and the savings and advantages of utilizing TruCentive for your next program.
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