Employers falling short in employee recognition, rewards

Workers want appreciation, but many say their company doesn’t recognize them or offer incentives.
By: | March 4, 2021 • 2 min read

Employees overwhelmingly want recognition from their employers but don’t feel like they are getting it, according to data.

A survey from Blackhawk Network, a payments provider, finds that roughly 80% of employees say it’s important for employers to celebrate workplace accomplishments, anniversaries and achievements, and more than 86% said they want their employer to express appreciation for their personal contributions. Yet more than 40% of respondents say their employer does not offer an incentive/rewards program or recognize employees.

The data comes in time for National Employee Appreciation Day, which is observed March 5.

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“Incenting and recognizing employees is vital to engagement—especially amid the new working environment many of us are now in—and many employers are missing this opportunity to boost loyalty and retention,” says Jeff Haughton, senior vice president of incentives, corporate development and strategy at Blackhawk Network.

So what do employees want as recognition? Most of all, they would like bonuses, cited by 66% of employees, though just 28% receive them from their employer. Other top incentives are time off work (42% would like time off work, just 15% are granted it); prepaid or gift cards (41% want them, 20% are awarded them); personalized cards or emails (33% want them, but 25% receive them); and being singled out at a company event or ceremony (only 19% of employees say they want this, though 27% are recognized this way).

The survey finds that not only do recognition and rewards make employees feel good about their employer, but they also can boost productivity. More than 80% of respondents indicated a gift or prepaid card incentive would increase productivity and loyalty, for instance.

“As employers design incentive programs this year, it is critical to select rewards that feel special, can be deployed quickly, and have digital redemption capabilities,” Haughton says.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.