Groups within the incentive industry have varying opinions when it comes to what reward is truly best. While some groups strongly believe merchandise is the best option, others point to travel or gift cards. Regardless of these differing opinions, there’s no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted the way employee experience and HR professionals approach rewards, making the IRF study that much more interesting.
Because the IRF study was conducted during COVID-19, there is a notable shift in reward preferences by 16% of the responders. Within this group, there is a 55% increase in the desire for gift cards to purchase wanted or needed items. Much of this shift can be attributed to reductions in household income, reductions in hours worked, and an increase in grocery costs.
Reward Satisfaction Correlates with Job Satisfaction
The IRF study indicates that reward types and job satisfaction go hand in hand. In fact, employees who said they were extremely satisfied with employer recognition were 14x more satisfied with their jobs, compared to those who were dissatisfied. This finding is huge. Here are some additional insights from employees who said they were extremely satisfied with employer recognition:
• 11x more likely to look forward to coming to work every day • 7x more likely to have a long-term intention of staying with the company • 15x more likely to recommend the company to prospective employees • 6x more likely to recommend the company’s products and services to others • 5x more motivated to give their best possible effort every day
The Top Five Rewards
These are the top five rewards cited in the IRF study that were linked to the highest levels of job satisfaction. The ratings are on a five-point scale.
The Importance of Listening
Though we have data indicating what rewards fuel employee satisfaction and engagement at work, it’s not always used. The IRF study notes how often top-rated rewards are gifted:
• The second-ranked item—an all-expenses paid special event—was preferred by 51% but only awarded to 3% • The fifth-ranked item—a family lunch or dinner paid for by the company—was preferred by 47% but only awarded to 6% • Receiving a food gift was preferred by 38% but only awarded to 6% •Receiving points that can be accumulated and redeemed was preferred by 33% but only awarded 7%
The IRF study indicates that companies aren’t listening. And with an entire industry of suppliers dedicated to helping companies provide gifts or tokens of appreciation, offering these types of rewards is easy. In addition, many technology providers offer integrations that make rewarding simple. Our integration with TinyPulse, for example, makes it easy for companies to provide gift card rewards in a peer-to-peer format. Our partnership with Centrical also simplifies the process of adding gift card rewards to engagement and gamification tools, which are in high demand. Ultimately, if companies want to encourage and fuel employee satisfaction and engagement, they need to deliver the rewards their employees really want.
Cindy is passionate about the incentive industry. In addition to her role as Director of Channel Marketing here at Tango Card, she is a Certified Professional of Incentive Management who proudly serves on two industry boards. When she’s not working, Cindy enjoys spending time with her family—including three cats, two dogs, and a horse—and sharing her love of nature as a Nebraska Master Naturalist.