(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by Gift Card Mall, offering a broad range of gift cards that can be delivered via email or traditional mail. Their site, BuyBulkGiftCards.com, has over 150 different gift cards from leading brands in clothing, restaurants, travel and entertainment. I’m excited to welcome them to HR Bartender. Enjoy the post!)
A couple weeks ago, I shared with you some research about what employees want. You can check out the post here. Bottom line, they want money. The post sparked an interesting conversation about recognition. I consider pay and recognition to be two different things. However, they are related and equally important.
Companies that are not in a position to increase wages for all of their employees have to find ways to offer benefits and recognition that can help to fill a void and grow engagement. Some things to consider are telework, relaxed dress codes, and practical forms of recognition. It doesn’t replace compensation but it can be more sensitive to the situation. From my experience, gift cards are a great recognition option to consider.
3 Types of People You Want to Recognize
The real benefit that gift cards offer is flexibility. Over the years, I’ve used gift cards as thanks in so many ways:
Employees – In the companies I’ve worked for, we always had a formal customer service program. To reinforce the principles learned during customer service training, we had a “caught you doing something right” program. Managers were given gift cards to recognize employees on the spot when they saw them delivering exceptional service to guests. Gift cards were small, so managers could carry a supply with them around the workplace. And managers told me they loved the spontaneity of the program. Obviously, employees enjoyed the surprise and the recognition – not just from their manager, but any manager.
Volunteers – When I was involved with HR conference planning, we always kept a supply of gift cards handy. It never failed that someone would step in to help us at the last minute. This allowed us to thank the person who might have missed a session or pulled some strings on our behalf. At last year’s SHRM conference, they were doing the same thing – giving out gift cards to people who had done a last minute good deed during the event.
Customers – This happens several ways. First, a company might give a gift card thanks to people who sign up for a product demonstration appointment. Second, companies can send a gift card to customers who complete a survey as a thanks for their time. Lastly, businesses could create social media contests where the winners receive gift cards. For any of these options, the gift cards could be easily mailed or handed out.
The common thread here is that gift cards can be used by many departments in your company. One department can be responsible for purchasing gift cards for the entire organization – helping the business get some benefit for purchasing in bulk. Gift Card Mall offer a rewards program that gives companies their own rewards such as airline tickets, dining coupons, etc. From my experience, we used the rewards as additional recognition – so you get a double bonus!
The Benefits of Gift Cards
I’ve been a fan of using gift cards for a very long time. Years ago, I realized the importance of giving employees authentic and personalized gifts. I worked for a company that spent a tremendous amount of money creating a recognition program. The CEO wanted all of the recognition items to reflect the pride he had in his employees and the first-class customer service they gave to our customers. So he had all their gifts custom made at Tiffany & Co. Yep, the little blue box company.
Shortly after the program was launched, I discovered that the employees were pawning their gifts. I was speechless, and then I figured out why. The employees didn’t have any use for tchotchkes from Tiffany. They wanted needed money! We weren’t the type of company to hand out cash on the spot, so gift cards became a great option. Here are a few things I really loved — and still love — about gift cards:
- Gift cards are easy to store, carry, and distribute. People can put them in their pocket or send them through the mail.
- Gift cards provide a variety of gifting options. Some people want iTunes, but not everyone owns Apple products. Others love Starbucks. Recipients can select the card that means the most to them.
- Bulk purchasing gift cards saves time and money. Again, marketing and human resources can get together and buy gift cards for everyone. We stored ours in a secure location, and always had some on hand so we could give our thanks and recognition at any time.
- Gift cards can be customized with a company logo or other visuals. Another cool feature is to have the company logo printed on a VISA card. It allows the ultimate in flexibility – you’re not just giving a gift card to a place, it’s money. And it keeps the company logo in front of the recipient.
- Lastly, gift cards are safe. They can be replaced if they’re lost or stolen. I never wanted to be in a position of telling an employee I can’t replace their recognition gift if something unfortunate happened.
Honestly, I’ve never found a person who hated gift cards. While there are some people who consider them to be impersonal, I’d argue they are actually more personal. Gift card recipients can get what they want when they want it. What’s more personal than that?
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