Revealed: the best way to engage and motivate employees

Blackhawk Network commissioned a survey of 2,000 respondents to provide deep insight to what employees really need in order to feel appreciated. Chris Ronald, vice-president EMEA, Incentives, shares the results


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One of the most talked about challenges of the Covid recovery is talent recruitment, productivity, and retention. UK business leaders are facing significant skills shortages, due to a spike in employee attrition and competition for resources driving up salary offers. When it comes to employee engagement strategy, there seems to be a lot of guesswork still going on. We see businesses implementing new ideas on a whim, and a sizeable number are still not doing anything at all. So, what’s the best way to truly engage and create loyal employees?

The main headline? Rewards and benefits work. 52% of employees say that receiving rewards and recognition would motivate them to exceed their goals, and a further 38% would stay with their employer for longer.

Yet 37% of employees say they are not currently being recognised or rewarded at work at all. This figure rises to 47% of people working in admin or managerial roles. It is clearly a missed opportunity for many employers.

A question often asked is what sort of reward to give. Our research tells us that a third want “a gift card to use at a variety of retailers” as one of their top three preferred rewards. Pair this with the indication that employees prefer rewards that link to their hobbies and interests, and you’ll soon find yourself providing an appreciated, choice-based reward. When delving deeper into the most popular interests, the majority of employees cited food and drink (64%), ahead of 57% saying entertainment and events, and 39% who favoured sport. Our data also shows that rewarding on a monthly or quarterly basis would satisfy two thirds of the UK workforce.

What do people expect to be rewarded for? Almost half say “for the ongoing effort I put in at work”, which is in contrast to the typical approach of rewarding those who go above and beyond. The other major reason is for “achieving a major goal or milestone”, whether as an individual or as a team. This highlights the need for balance, not just focusing on those who have gone the extra mile, but those who are doing their job as expected.

We also asked which specific employee benefits are most valuable. Top of the list at 40% is “a [reloadable] prepaid card that offers rewards for everyday spending”, tied with private healthcare. As the cost of travel goes up, it’s no surprise to see 34% demanding travel expenses.

Naturally, we also wanted to find out which perks are overrated. Only 9% appreciate in-workplace rewards such as fruit baskets, free lunches, or free gym memberships as a top-three benefit.

A focus on mental health has now become a priority. Offering mandatory benefits such as a pension and annual leave is no longer enough. Of the respondents, 93% believe it is important for employee benefits to have a positive impact on mental health, with three-quarters rating this as “very important”. Only a few years ago companies barely considered mental health. It’s a huge indication for employee engagement strategy in 2022 and beyond to see this rated as the top concern.

Conclusion? There’s a spectrum of needs. No single workplace benefit or reward will cover all cases, but offering a range of solutions that aid mental, physical and financial health is likely to satisfy the majority.

Read the full report at: Blackhawknetwork.co.uk

Blackhawk Network is a leading provider of incentives, rewards and benefits. We collaborate with our clients to engage with the people that matter most to their business.


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