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Top 4 Ideas to Increase Employee Engagement Through Employee Gift Cards

As Americans get used to the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, what is to become of the way we work? We are over 2 years into a world of remote, hybrid and flexible work, and workforce trends indicate that this is the way work will be for the foreseeable future. Workforces of all kinds have proven that they can do their jobs remotely, that productivity doesn’t suffer, and that employee experience improves. As employees are challenged with communicating, and staying motivated working remotely, employers need to adapt employee engagement programs to address these new conditions.

Employee engagement programs are more important now than ever in order to boost morale, facilitate open communication, and maintain motivation within your newly remote organization.

Based on our experience of being a remote organization for almost 20 years, we’ve identified several successful strategies to implement as you adapt your employee engagement program for a remote workforce.

The New Meaning of Employee Engagement

The definition of employee engagement has changed a lot over the last two plus years. As companies were forced to send employees home from the office abruptly, and have since created plans that support more flexible work, employee engagement now encompasses a combination of growth and development planning combined with providing connection to colleagues and clear channels for communication.

Growth and development planning allows employees to stay engaged professionally. When they have a clear growth path and plan to reach their career goals, they begin to see and build that future with their current employer, rather than starting to look elsewhere to achieve their goals.

Company communication is critical for dispersed teams. Creating communication norms at every level of the organization is key to ensure employees feel connected to each other, their teams and organizational leadership. Employee engagement success requires clear communication coming from predictable places on a regular basis.

Employee Engagement Statistics You Need to Know

Gallup study trends on employee engagement

As we discuss the importance of employee engagement, it’s important to know the facts. Employee engagement has been on the decline for American workers for many years, and that trend continued during the shift to hybrid and remote work settings. A recent Gallup poll showed:

  • Employee engagement across the country dropped from 36% in 2020 to 34% in 2021, down to 32% in early 2022
  • Hybrid and remote employees were more engaged (37%) than those who work in offices full time (29%)

Statistics like these prove that while employee engagement in the new way we work may be challenging, engaging employees is still a critical component of the overall employee experience.

Virtual Employee Engagement Is Not Easy but It Is Important

Employee engagement for virtual workforces can get tricky. There are no big town hall meetings to pass out rewards, and far less in-person dinners and happy hours to harbor team building and camaraderie. Ensuring that employee engagement efforts are easy to deliver and can be delivered in a timely manner are critical to engagement program success.

Gift cards are uniquely suited to engage dispersed workforces. They can flex to fit any budget and are available in a wide variety of retail categories, so you can provide dinner to one team and a gift card to buy a book that will be read as a team to another. Gift cards can be delivered and redeemed instantly in a digital format. The logistics are what make virtual employee engagement challenges, gift cards remove all of those friction points, creating a great experience for employers and employees.

How Can I Motivate and Engage Employees Working from Home?

In today’s work environment, there may be less opportunity for in-person interaction, so what does employee engagement look like? It could be a wide variety of initiatives including:

  • Employee experience: Many companies are hiring employee experience specialists to create culture, camaraderie and team building. These specialists help plan events, in person and virtual, that get employees together socially, help team leads create contests to motivate their employees and ensure that employees feel connected to the company, regardless of where their desk is.
  • Employee rewards: Remember when “office perks” consisted of things like free beer and snacks in the kitchen or catered lunches? Companies no longer need to focus their budgets on in-office perks, so transferring budget to constructing rewards programs where employees can earn rewards through exceptional performance is a great way to turn that budget into something that strengthens not only employee engagement, but also productivity. Employees can redeem rewards for things that are easy to deliver like SWAG packs and gift cards for lunches or coffees, while the rewards themselves are only given out to high performers.
  • Employee communications: Organizations with dispersed workforces need to invest in communication channels. It’s impossible to engage employees when they can’t connect with each other. This often means redundant communication channels. Incorporating email, with video call AND an instant message platform so there is a communication channel for every type of employee and team and so leaders in the organization can create norms for communication.
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Remote Work: 4 Great Ideas to Increase Employee Engagement Through Employee Gift Cards

So how do you “do employee engagement through gift cards?” At this point, we’ve hopefully proven to you that employee engagement is worthwhile, even and especially for remote teams. Here are a few tactics we use to engage employees, all of which are low-lift initiatives that you could launch at your organization quickly and easily.

1. Doing Employee Engagement Surveys for Gift Cards
Employee Engagement Surveys for Gift Cards

Employee engagement initiatives don’t work unless they meet the needs of your employee population. Surveying employees regularly allows for a strong start to a program, but also allows organizations to keep a pulse on their employees’ wants and needs and focuses for engagement. Additionally, surveys are a great way to offer spot rewards- like small denomination gift cards for completion.

Here are some of our top gift cards used for employee engagement surveys:

  • The Engage2Reward Choice Card- This unique e-gift card allows the recipient to select from among hundreds of brands to create a reward that’s personally impactful.
  • CVS® Gift Cards- CVS stores provide a variety of health and wellness and lifestyle items, making them a versatile reward option.
  • Walmart- Walmart can provide employees with everything from groceries to tools and outdoor gear making their gift cards valuable for a wide breadth of any workforce.


2. Organizing a Virtual Coffee Break Every Now and Then

Virtual Coffee Break between Remote Employees

As a virtual company for 15 years, GiftCard Partners employees know the value of a virtual coffee date. Encourage employees to schedule meetings with each other just to catch up. It’s easy to support this effort by providing gift cards to cover the cost of coffee or snacks for these meetings.

  • Dunkin'- Providing employees with a small spot reward to cover coffee they can share with a colleague in another location is a great way to support virtual socializing.
  • Target- Gift cards to target could help fund a virtual coffee date or even snacks for a group afternoon break.


3. Hosting Fun Online Team Building Activities

Hosting Fun Online Team Building Activities

Since the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shifted more workplaces to a virtual setting, online-based team building activities have gained enormous popularity. Fun activities like playing games online, cooking classes, trivia and paint nights are easy to fund for dispersed workforces and can go a long way in bringing employees together and creating memorable experiences created by the employer.

  • Lululemon- Giving employees the opportunity to splurge on a nice piece of activewear could help foster a culture of online wellness events.
  • Amazon- No matter what type of team building activity you are planning, Amazon probably has what you need and can deliver it to employees doors in two days or less.
  • Home Chef- Virtual cooking experiences are made easy with pre-portioned ingredients and step by step instructions to create delicious dinner colleagues can share.


4. Building Employee Rewards & Incentive Programs

Building Employee Rewards & Incentive Programs

Building a comprehensive employee reward and incentive program is a great way to connect employees. Encouraging peer award nominations democratizes programs, allowing any employee to recognize anyone else in the organization, and avoids rewards only coming down from leadership and executives. Ensuring you provide flexible, easily delivered rewards ensures that the program remains timely and engages employees at the time they perform reward-worth actions.

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Employee engagement is a key component to driving employee retention and satisfaction as the way we work changes drastically and those changes that were once thought of as temporary become permanent. Ensuring your organization is considering engaging employees as it builds and iterates on company culture will reduce costs over the long-term and retain top talent by keeping employees happy and connected into the “future of work.”

Topics: Rewards & Loyalty, Gift Cards, Prepaid Gift Cards, Employee Incentives & Rewards, Engage2Reward Gift Card Ordering Platform

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