Incentive Gift Cards Get Even More Popular in a Touchless World

Gift card use in corporate America is having a moment.

Actually, as the return to offices has been pushed back by most companies due to another spike in COVID cases, the gift cards moment will likely be extended indefinitely.

The pandemic has generated a steady stream of stories about managing remote teams, and gift cards are invariably mentioned in most. Gift cards were a common component of employee recognition programs prior to the pandemic, but the forced cancelation of incentive travel programs and gift cards’ ease of use in a world that is not working together has produced a significant increase in their use. The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) reported late last year that since the business world went remote in March 2020, there has been a 26% increase in the use of gift cards in workplace incentive programs.

Corporate use of gift cards in the past year range from helping workers equip their home offices, to buying team members lunches for Zoom meetings, stocking up for Zoom happy hours, or providing impromptu spot rewards by managers or in peer-to-peer recognition programs.

“Now more than ever, employees, partners and other stakeholders need support, morale boosts and encouragement,” states Juan Ortiz, product marketing specialist at channel incentives provider WorkStride, in an article for Business2Community. “Businesses have been heeding the call with increased communications, creative engagement techniques, and even monetary rewards as part of their approach.”

Embracing Digital Delivery

The ability to digitize gift card delivery has existed for decades, but more companies relied on these capabilities during the past year and a half for obvious reasons. The IRF reports that many lessons were learned about the power of virtual engagement.

“Digital options enable immediate, coordinated, trackable delivery of rewards regardless of geographic location, and groups of employees can receive their reward at the same time such as during a virtual meeting. Digital delivery can also increase control, enhance reporting and reduce overall administration time for program owners,” the IRF report states.

Recognizing achievements instantly — or as immediately as possible — is more important in the remote work world. Motivation experts also remind managers that recognizing top performers in front of peers has always been critical.

And don’t adopt a “set it and forget it” mind-set with incentive gift card programs. Refreshing gift card options so they don’t get stale will help engage employees long term.

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