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Learn from the Pros: How Top Organizations Maximize Reward Programs for Big Results

Posted, by Hannah Noel on 02/18/2020
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If you’re like most people, you’ve probably watched a video tutorial at some point in your life to learn something new. We often look to pros in certain fields to learn from their practices to enhance our own.

Businesses are no different. We look to our industries for best practices from other companies to keep our competitive edge. The same can be said about our employee programs as well.

Most companies have an employee reward and recognition program of some kind, aiming to engage employees to increase job performance and satisfaction. More importantly, these programs are a direct reflection of a company’s work culture, and so considerable attention should be paid to their development in order to retain employees and keep them flourishing.

Four companies were in the news recently for their employee engagement strategies. For you, I’ve summarized their best practices that you can take away and implement in your program for big results.

Delta’s Emotionally Intelligent Employee Recognition

Delta Airlines is one of the world’s largest global airlines, helping more than 180 million people travel every year. Recently, their CEO Ed Bastian was called out as a rock star on LinkedIn, and instead of saying thank you and going on about his day, he turned it back around to acknowledge his employees.

"Appreciate the shout out...but Delta would be nothing without our 90,000 people. They deserve all the credit."

-Ed Bastian

Employee recognition is a powerful tool, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as what Ed Bastian did—he got a compliment but turned the goodwill around and made it about his employees. Doing something as simple as giving a shout out to employees every once in a while can boost morale, in fact, roughly 50% of mid-level managers feel a lack of support from the upper levels of management in a survey we conducted.

What’s more: 2019 was a good year for Delta, reporting  strong fiscal performance and profitability. The company decided to share the goodwill in a total of $1.6 million bonuses for employees as a way to say thank you for the hard work. 

When it comes to excellent employee recognition, it’s not about a large bonus—it’s more about the fact that Delta shares its success with their employees. That sends a powerful message to employees that doing great quality work for your company has great value.

You may be thinking, that’s a lot of money to invest in employee recognition, but think about the costs associated with turnover. Turnover will always cost more than retaining the employees you already have by engaging and recognizing them in ways that count, and you don't need to pay out 1.6 million in bonuses. There are non-cash incentives you can offer in rewards programs that can be just as or even more effective than cash incentives.

Fuse’s Non-Cash Rewards and Perks

Fuse may not be a company you’ve heard of, but they make a significant impact in the lives of their employees. They are an independent agency that specializes in teen and young adult marketing, and they have been named one of Vermont’s best places to work for ten consecutive years.

What sets them apart from other employers programs  is their array of rewards and perks that delight employees, and they have little to do with cash bonuses. Some of their workplace perks include:

  • Remote work Fridays
  • Flexible schedules
  • Bring dogs to work
  • Annual fitness stipend
  • A ski/snowboard season's pass
  • Access to an on-site mini skateboard ramp
  • In-office weekly yoga classes

Fuse believes that the daily satisfaction of their staff is important to their overall success as a company, so they create a work environment in which employees enjoy participating and engaging. Many studies have shown a strong link between the happiness of employees and the profits and growth of companies. When it comes to boosting individual employee engagement, Fuse encourages  all their staff members to organize monthly volunteer opportunities, and rewards them with paid time off.

That’s not to say they don’t use traditional rewards either. Fuse rewards employees for extended tenure. Employees who reach five-year and ten-year milestones of employment at Fuse are awarded with a custom tenure package that includes a personalized vacation stipend and additional time off. Offering incentives and giving rewards that provide memorable experiences go a long way in building employee loyalty in any organization.

Apple’s Clear Wellness Goals

Apple (as you probably already know) is a technology company that sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. When it comes to employee rewards, they turn to the technology they sell.

For the month of February, Apple is planning on rewarding all employees who wear their Apple Watch and close activity rings with a t-shirt. This initiative may seem simple, but there’s research that shows how recognition is most powerful when you’re clear about your expectations for your employees’ performance and then reward and recognize when they meet that criteria.

Apple is also using its smartwatch to make a deeper push into the health and wellness space, thanks to a new program called “Apple Watch Connected”, a wellness initiative that’s meant to encourage users to work out at the gym while wearing their Apple Watch. Orange Theory, one of Apple’s launch partners, even offers their employee’s gift cards to Nike and Apple for participating in the program and hitting various goals.

GiftCard Partners’ Spot Rewards

Not to toot our own horn, but as a company that’s dealt with rewards and incentives for over 15 years and has been named one of the Best and Brightest companies to work for in the nation, we’ve learned some of the best ways to reward and recognize employees.

Along with ongoing verbal recognition, GiftCard Partners uses spot gift card rewards to demonstrate a job well done. We understand that the workforce is more diverse than ever before, and rewards should reflect that. We may be a little biased, but gift card rewards have continuously placed first in versatility and memorability, meaning they can be tailored and personalized to provide memorable  experiences based on each employee wants or needs. Additionally, new technology platforms like Engage2Reward make it easy for companies to help order, customize and deliver gift card rewards directly to their employees and measure the results.

Learning from these best practices can boost your program’s success and help you create an environment for your employees that motivates them to perform better and enjoy their job.


Are you currently doing any of these practices in your company? Leave us a comment below to let us know how it’s working out for you.


Topics: Loyalty Incentives, employee enagagement, Employee Incentives & Rewards

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