The Case for Practical Employee Rewards

Small gestures have an outsize impact

Employee Appreciation

Providing practical employee rewards for your staff makes good business sense. Gas cards, grocery cards and prepaid cards are simple, yet practical ideas.  Small gestures can have an outsize impact in today’s economic landscape where the cost of living is often cited in media as a key topic of interest.

Businesses are increasingly recognizing the importance of providing practical employee rewards as a gesture of appreciation, to foster a positive culture, boost retention and enhance the work-life balance.

Let’s explore a few reasons why practical employee rewards are a wonderful idea and an imperative for building and nurturing a motivated and engaged workforce. Investing in employee satisfaction with practical rewards is a simple and effective strategy.

woman pumping gas into automobile paid using a practical employee reward

Attracting and Retaining Employees

Attracting and retaining talent is a key reality for most organizations. Cost of living, housing costs, commuting costs, inflation and healthcare all affect employees and prospective employees. These issues are consistently top of mind. Perceptive employers are recognizing that practical employee rewards, although moderately small in intrinsic value, can play an outsized role in establishing and reinforcing positive employee perception. When current employees speak highly of their workplace, it creates a favorable image for potential candidates.

congratulating work colleague

Personalized Recognition

Understanding the unique preferences and needs of each employee allows businesses to tailor practical employee rewards that resonate on a personal level. Acknowledging an employee milestone or anniversary date, praising a job well done, or rewarding a personal accomplishment, goes beyond the bottom line and creates a positive and delightful work environment.

What are Practical Employee Rewards?

at the movies

Fun Factor

Employers can provide practical employee rewards in the form of gifts that add a touch of fun to employees’ personal lives. These gifts can show appreciation, boost morale, and contribute to a positive work-life balance.

Gift cards for experiences such as dining at a favorite restaurant, attending a concert, going to a spa, or movies, make memorable tokens of appreciation. Memorable experiences outside of work are often a topic of discussion at work.

Remote Work

Businesses have recognized the realities of remote work, and the advantages and disadvantages it brings.

Practical rewards can include flexible work arrangements where the employee has a say in crafting the parameters. Allowing employees a choice of working hours and providing remote work options aligns with the evolving desires of your workforce and serves as a cost-efficient incentive.

Other practical rewards can include gift cards for items to make the home or remote office more comfortable and enjoyable. Remote work can reduce commuting costs for employees and contributes to a healthier work-life balance and can be a practical reward.

Employee Choice

Practical awards, such as gas cards and debit cards, offer employees tangible benefits that enhance their daily lives. Gas cards alleviate commuting expenses, easing the financial burden of transportation. Debit cards, on the other hand, offer flexibility and choice, allowing employees to use them for various necessities or leisure activities.

Whether it’s covering groceries, dining out, or purchasing personal items, debit cards enable individual employees to make choices that suit their unique needs. These practical awards go beyond traditional recognition, and demonstrate a commitment to employees’ financial well-being and contributing to a positive work environment and overall job satisfaction.

Commuting Assistance

Reducing commuting costs for employees is a very practical reward. Offer subsidies for commuting expenses, such as fuel or public transportation passes.

You may easily provide cards for commuting costs such as fuel or for transportation by public transit where it is available. Many cities and municipalities also have programs that can assist with your employee’s commuting costs. Work-from-home, remote work and flexible hours are additional strategies to mitigate the inconvenience and cost of commuting. Parking, toll, and other recurring fees may also be prepaid for employees.

Whichever path you choose, endeavor to collaborate with employees so they have a say in what is most practical and rewarding for them.

Bartender pouring a drink at a local bar

Local Engagement

Collaboration with local businesses to offer discounts and benefits to employees is often a win-win strategy.

Choose awards and rewards that are available through the local merchants’ selection.

Practical rewards that extend beyond the workplace and into the local community strengthen the bond between local businesses, local employees, and their surroundings.

Local rewards support the local economy and also fosters a sense of community and belonging among employees.

Just a bit of effort can have tremendous results

Employee engagement is the number one driver of employee satisfaction and retention.

  • Only 33% of employees in the US are engaged in their jobs.
  • 37% of US employees consider personal recognition the single most important driver of encouraging better work. That’s considerably higher than the 7% who said “pay me more” was the most important motivator.
  • A Workhuman study found that people who were thanked at work in the last month are only half as likely to be looking for a new job.
  • Recognizing employees’ contributions is essential — especially now with the continuing struggle to acquire talent.
  • Recognition is the number one driver of engagement and the best way to make employees feel valued.
  • More than a third of employees (35%) say that the increased job satisfaction they feel after receiving a meaningful gift lasts for 3–6 months.
three employee satisfaction choices

The Bottom Line:

Invest in Employee Satisfaction

Businesses must be strategic about how they incentivize and acknowledge their employees. Practical rewards that directly address the cost of living, support employee well-being, and acknowledge individual contributions not only boost employee satisfaction but also contribute to the overall success and resilience of the organization.

Businesses are just as sensitive to the conditions of the economy as employees.

Investing in practical employee rewards is not just a good idea but is a fundamental component of a forward-thinking and compassionate workplace culture.

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