Due to the pandemic, a large number of Americans are now working virtually. Several major firms recently announced they are shifting permanently to a work-from-home structure, so it's no stretch to expect more businesses will follow suit. With so many people now working remotely, it is more important than ever for employers to take extra care to ensure they're engaging these employees in ways that encourage positive morale, maintain or boost productivity and foster a successful virtual culture.
Employees want to be recognized for a job done well, hitting a company milestone or closing a big sale. And they want to feel like their employer cares about them, especially during periods of change. Acknowledging their efforts and affirming their value to your company in tangible ways can go a long way.
Following are five, research-based ideas you can implement immediately to engage your remote workforce:
- Lean on rewards and incentives. Research from Blackhawk Network shows that successfully executed employee reward programs deepen employee engagement and loyalty. A separate study we commissioned found that 84 percent of employees' loyalty to a company would increase if they receive a reward from their employer. When employees were asked how they wanted their employers to engage them when they worked remotely, the top choice was to receive rewards and incentives. Nearly two-thirds of employees surveyed also said that it's important to receive rewards from their employer. The numbers are clear: Creating or leveraging rewards and incentives programs can lay a solid foundation for employee engagement.
- Dole out prepaid and gift cards. An overwhelming majority (84 percent) of employees who work from home want rewards in the form of prepaid and gift cards, according to our research. These gifts are versatile and give employees a chance to treat themselves to something they wouldn't normally buy, or affords them unexpected funds to buy something they need. Our data also found that most people surveyed would be encouraged to work harder after receiving gift card rewards and that they feel gift card rewards show their employer values them. Blackhawk's research also revealed that 63 percent of employees want gift cards that feature their choice of brands.
- Go digital. Our findings show that nearly half of employees surveyed prefer digital rewards to physical gift cards. With so many people shopping online or via mobile devices, digital prepaid and gift cards offer an easy method of payment. As an added bonus, the cost of contactless rewards is typically lower than the cost of physical gift cards that require printing, shipping, etc.
- Keep it personal. Blackhawk Network's research also revealed that few employee reward program managers take advantage of the opportunity to add a personal touch to gift cards. Choose providers that offer options such as adding recipients' names, company logos and words of thanks that personalize rewards. Small details like these can go a long way in singling out employees for their specific contributions and accomplishments.
- Don't forget holiday gifts and rewards. If your holiday shopping list looks anything like mine, you have a long, diverse group of people to buy for that makes finding something "personal" for everyone akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. Businesses aren't exempt from this daunting task; Now is the time to look ahead at what you're going to give employees for holiday gifts and rewards. Giving people something that stands out among the sea of fruit baskets, popcorn tins, and mundane swag is a tall order. Gift cards provide an ideal solution to these challenges.
Work-from-home arrangements may be here to stay and engaging an active online workforce will be important to maintain a company's culture and productivity. The right rewards and incentives help drive loyalty and positively influence behaviors that directly contribute to the bottom line and helps reduce expensive employee turnover. As our world gets smaller and increasingly digitized, motivating your employees from afar in the ways they want will be a major competitive differentiator.
Bill Warshauer is vice president of sales at Hawk Incentives, a Blackhawk Network Business