HR · 25 May 2017

Why employee reward schemes create environments staff won’t want to leave

employee reward scheme
Employers have been able to accumulate benefits through a company credit card to pass down to staff

Almost all small UK employers have used employee reward schemes to recognise the contribution of their workforce, according to new research.

The study, by American Express, found just six per cent of small business owners hadn’t provided staff with a gifting initiative, but with a wide range of benefits, that minority might want to reconsider.

In particular, employee reward schemes could have a significant impact on staff retention rates. Over a third of bosses had experienced stronger levels of loyalty by regularly acknowledging the contribution of workers.

Some 38 per cent of small business owners implemented a reward scheme that recognised high achievement, such as employee of the month awards.

The use of such initiatives was reflected in the responses from workers. Almost nine in ten had been rewarded by their employer, and half said it made them feel valued.

In fact, a third of small business workers said employee reward schemes encouraged them to work harder in the office, highlighting the tangible productivity benefits employers could be missing out on.

Over a third of employees not offered workplace rewards admitted gifts and recognition would motivate them to put more into their roles.

Commenting on the extensive use of employee benefits, Jose Carvalho, senior vice-president at American Express said small business owners were “reaping the benefits” of actively expressing gratitude to staff members.

“A simple thank you goes a long way and will not only make employees feel good, but will benefit a business in the process,” Carvalho said in a statement.

Employers were also found to be passing down to staff monetary benefits accumulated by the business through a company credit card.

“Our study also shows that a number of [small business owners] are gifting rewards accrued through spending on a credit card, such as high street vouchers – 46 per cent” Carvalho added.

American Express revealed tips for smaller employers looking to introduce employee reward schemes.

During the recruitment process, emphasising the availability of staff benefits could help a small company stand out from competitors.

Meanwhile, rewards should be received alongside personal congratulations to the employee, as the physical conversation is more likely to live in their memory.

Timing could also be crucial. End-of-year presentations give employers the chance the share the success of the company, while allowing workers to congratulate their colleagues.

Finally, speaking to staff to find out what kind of rewards they would like to see shouldn’t be underestimated. Collaboration promotes their input, but the awareness of specific gifts could increase their efforts in working hours.

Find out which ten workplace benefits your future recruits will demand

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.