Right now, tens of millions of employees are working from home. Some on a permanent basis, others temporarily. As a manager – or even as an entire enterprise – you’re now faced with an urgent need to adjust how you interact with, engage and motivate your employees. Perhaps even at a global scale.
As head of HR at a global fintech company, I’ve seen this challenge firsthand. We’ve had to rapidly shift our priorities since the onset of Covid-19 to accommodate virtual arrangements for our employees separated geographically across the globe. We are not alone in the move to supporting broader work-from-home accommodations. Several multi-billion-dollar companies have even announced they are shifting to permanent work-from-home structures for some or all of their employees. And it’s no stretch to expect more businesses, large and small, to follow suit.
Our own in-house incentives and engagement experts, including the team leading our Employee Success Platform, called Achievers, have helped us navigate the change, and we have some tips and ideas for other businesses trying to do the same.
Offer the technology needed for employees to have meaningful connections
Engaging employees, encouraging positive morale, boosting productivity and cultivating culture are essential for any business. Covid didn’t change that – but what has changed is how we do those things. Now that working from home will be more prevalent, we all need to ensure we’re adjusting to digital- and virtual-friendly strategies to accommodate the new work landscape.
Employees want to be recognised for a job well done, 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. In-person tactics that used to be effective are irrelevant in virtual environments. To reach your virtual and digitally savvy audience, it’s important to understand how they want to be recognised.
In a recent study, we wanted to find out what employees found most motivating, and the results were overwhelming: a whopping 84 per cent of employees surveyed who work from home want rewards in the form of prepaid/gift cards. Additionally, gift cards are regarded by employees as a key motivator (76 per cent), driving feelings of being valued (84 per cent), and increased loyalty (78 per cent). These cards are extremely versatile and give employees a chance to treat themselves to something they wouldn’t normally purchase, or provide them with unexpected funds to buy something they need.
Research has also found that most people surveyed2 would be encouraged to work harder after receiving gift card rewards and feel that gift card rewards show that their employer values them. In addition to digital rewards, digitally enabled rewards that can be uploaded to a mobile wallet or spent online are also impactful. As our world gets increasingly digitised, motivating your employees from afar in the ways they want will be a major competitive differentiator.
Work-from-home arrangements may be here to stay and engaging an active online workforce spread out geographically will be important to maintain company culture, productivity and employee retention. Providing ways for employees to meaningfully connect with one another and by offering the right rewards and incentives will ultimately help drive loyalty and help to reinforce positive workplace behaviors that directly contribute to the bottom line. Is your business ready?
by Suzanne Kinner, group vice president of human resources, Blackhawk Network
 The “Receiving Incentives and Rewards from Your Employer” study was an internet-based study conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of Blackhawk Network between March 24-25, 2020. The sample size included 1,718 working U.S. employees aged 18-60.
 “BrandedPay: How People and Brands Connect Through Payments” is based on the findings of an internet-based survey conducted by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network between February 12 and March 17, 2020. The sample size included over 12,000 respondents in eight countries.