Besides getting paid well and looking forward to benefits, employees often want to be treated fairly and appreciated for their work. It motivates them to contribute substantially to the growth of the organisation. Many organisations are already having their employee recognition programs in place to thank employees for various achievements. A recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Globoforce revealed that almost 80 per cent of the organisations have an employee recognition program.

What is employee gifting, rewards and recognition?

There are several programs that have been framed to recognize the contributions of the employees. Some of the notable ones are the length of the tenure in the organisation, five-year increments, one-time commendable achievements, remarkable performance over a period of time. The subsequent rewards for such performance would range from simple handwritten thank-you notes, an on-the-spot cash award, paid time off and gift cards for retailers or restaurants. Taking rewarding a bit further, there are organisations that also offer vacation packages for exemplary achievements. There could be public recognition as well as employee appreciation events to thank the employees for their efforts.

The employee appreciation program of an organisation must be designed in a manner that gels well with the overall culture, values and mission. Overall, it must a holistic idea which could have better participation and benefits for the employees. Employee gifting and rewards and recognition are also very helpful for improving engagement and loyalty towards the brand and organisation. The human resources policies must be crafted in a manner that promotes frequent recognition of employees through performance awards. These gestures often help create a positive company culture and also improve the employer-employee relationship.

Importance of employee gifting, rewards and recognition

Appreciation from employers can have a tangible impact on the minds of employees. An employee’s wellness can get a boost, stress can be lessened, and metabolism and sleep can be increased if employers show gratitude, according to an Emergenetics International article. Employee wellness will have a direct impact on productivity and subsequent work results. Employee’s well-being and health will get boosted which is very important as there is a lot of stress that people already face in their lives. Here are some of the benefits:

Improves employee wellness

Employees need constant motivation and confidence to perform at their best capabilities and acknowledgement helps a lot. It will also help foster loyalty and better working relationships. A workplace must always positive vibes and a culture of constructive feedback and regular appreciation. Happy employees are productive which directly affects their performance.

Improves morale

The leadership of an organisation must play an important role in employee motivation. Some of the most valuable assets of the organisation can be always motivated by letting them know that leadership is recognising their hard work.

Promotes self-awareness and self-improvement

Employee gifting, rewards and recognition can also play a vital role in helping employees realize self-awareness and work towards self-improvement. There will be a great opportunity to provide employees with opportunities to learn and grow. This learning process can be incentivised which could also motivate other employees to do the same.

Help in employee retention and talent attraction

Retaining the existing workforce can be best achieved through employee gifting and recognition. Apart from retaining the best employees, a good rewards and recognition program will also help in attracting the best talent that is available in the market. Employee retention has several facets like employee appreciation, emotional intelligence of the management, job satisfaction and security, etc. If any of these areas lack, there is a good chance that the organisation will have a high turnover rate.

Employee gifting, rewards and recognition

Many organisations have realized that employee gifting and recognition programs have the power to shape the direction of any business and employees. Engagement, productivity, morale and retention are a few factors that readily get affected through such programs. The Indian work scene is not far behind as many of the country’s businesses have realized the importance of employee gifting and recognition. According to a dipstick survey conducted by Zeta, 92 per cent of employees want rewards and recognition during special occasions. On the contrary, only 55 per cent of employees received rewards during special occasions or completion of a milestone. It points out to the fact that there is a wide gap in what employees seek from their employers and how much the employers actually give back to their employees.

Challenges related to Employee gifting, rewards and recognition

The importance of employee gifting and recognition cannot be challenged. However, still many organisations have not been able to implement such programs holistically, which could be due to several reasons. There can be several logistical challenges that could prevent many small and medium-sized businesses from implementing employee gifting and recognition programs. The 2013 Power of Employee Recognition report by Aberdeen Group stated that only 14 per cent of the organisations offer managers the necessary support required to implement such programs. For businesses that have their operations spread across different regions, it could also mean increased costs, which affects the implementation of such programs. Here are some of the reasons that prevent the implementation of employee gifting and recognition programs.

Logistics and procurement

If heavy logistics and heavy procurement support are required, it becomes very difficult for human resource teams to procure rewards and gifts for employees. Placing orders, tracking them and the final receipt could be an overwhelming task that needs a lot of time.

Transparency issues

If the budget assigned for employee gifting and rewarding is not used transparently, implementation of such programs will be tough. Many businesses find it tough managing the finances and documenting the spending.

Misappropriation of funds and resources

There will be always a concern among the organizers as employee gifts have a monetary value. Chances of these being stolen are very likely which could affect the overall program.

Vendor management

Coordinating with several vendors for different requirements can be a tough task which could delay the overall process of gifting and rewarding. Many things need to be considered and adhered to like the timelines, pricing, delivery, etc. Also, the receipt of products from the vendors according to the expectations could be a concern.

Ready-to-gift items

It is important to reward and recognize employees when their achievements are accomplished. On many occasions, there will be a need for unplanned rewards maintaining an inventory of gift vouchers is very important, which could not be possible at all times.

When should employers gift their employees?

Reasons and occasions to celebrate and gift the employees can be many. It could be performance-based rewards, celebratory rewards or annual bonus. It is important to gift the employees at the right time to improve the effectiveness of the rewards. While it could be a challenge maintaining the timelines as procurement has a major role to play in the entire exercise, none the less having fixed timelines is important. Timely rewards will give the employees a lot of happiness and the gratitude will be unmatched. To celebrate the achievements of employees, timely rewards are essential to realizing the essence of such programs.

What gifts employers give to their employees?

There have been several surveys conducted to identify the trends in the employee gifting and recognition segment and there are some interesting insights on offer. Gift cards and vouchers remain a preferred choice for many organisations when it comes to offering rewards during festive occasions, birthdays, etc. Sweet boxes are the second most popular items that are generally distributed in most Indian companies during Diwali. Some of the other most popular gift items include home decor items, kitchenware and cash incentives.

It is but natural that employees do look forward to receiving gifts and rewards from their employers during festivities and other special occasions. However, most of the employees don’t appreciate the gifts they receive. A box of sweets which is very offered by most companies during Diwali is also one of the least-appreciated gifts by employees. There is a similar feeling for other eatable gift items like chocolate boxes and dry fruit boxes. Frustrated due to this, many employees pass these gift boxes to someone else.

Gift cards and vouchers remain the most preferred rewards for the employees. Cash handouts are also preferred by many employees as it gives them the freedom to buy a product of their choice with the gift card or cash they receive from their employers.

The future of employee gifting, rewards and recognition

Organisations that are looking to develop a comprehensive rewards and recognition program must understand the needs of their employees to make the program a success. While designing the program, answering important questions like what employees want and when they want is crucial. There are several resources available online that can offer good insights into the psyche of employees. The current workforce comprises of two generations, Gen X and millennials, and catering to their individual needs becomes important. Thus, it becomes very vital to have a balanced program that can appeal to both the generation of the employees. Finalizing gifts that will be liked by everyone can be a tough task but it is required. While a box of sweets can be appreciated by the Gen X employees, it might not find many takers among the millennials. Similarly, millennials might like gadgets or other products related to technology, which might not be liked by Gen X employees. This might complicate the situation and make it tough for employers to finalize an ideal gift that will be appreciated by both the generations.

A rewards and recognition program can be a comprehensive one with regular gifts being given to employees. There can be more than one reason to celebrate and frequent rewards can have positive results on employees and the overall organisation. Employee recognition events can also be a great way of breaking free from the monotony and boosting productivity levels. No doubt the rewards and recognition program can require a lot of investment in terms of money, time and efforts, but they are important. Employers can look for sustainability and make the program a rewarding experience for everyone by considering ways to reduce the costs and the time spent on the exercise. There can be tools and resources that can help employers simplify the program and its various modules.

Research can reveal the rewards and recognition programs of other organisations which can offer valuable insights. Special care must be taken to ensure that the program has a human element at its heart, while at the same time making sure it has all the modern aspects to it. The challenges related to logistics and procurement must be looked at innovatively to make the process simplified for all the stakeholders. Remember, the rewards and recognition programs should be all-inclusive and everyone must be covered for the rewards. If everyone is not eligible for the rewards, it could negatively affect the overall program. It doesn’t take much to appreciate or reward someone’s performance and it all depends on setting the right context and company culture. A good employee recognition program will have the best elements of the culture of the organisation, which can lay a strong foundation for better staff engagement, continuous growth and development of employees, and a solid employee retention strategy. There can’t be a better time to introduce comprehensive employee gifting and rewards programs. Organisations that offer smarter programs will have happy and productive employees, who will lead the businesses towards new heights of success.

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