Employee Rewards: Should You Have a Self or Managed Service?

You may have noticed that employee rewards are kind of a big deal to us.

Proven to support successful workplace cultures and getting the best out of talented employees, they’re a powerful weapon in the ongoing fight for both staff attraction and retention.

But the way employee reward schemes work does vary from business-to-business; especially when it comes to the service as a solution. On the one hand, you might have an organisation who just wants to just sit back and let all the heavy lifting be done by a specialist such as ourselves – nothing wrong with that, we might add!

On the other, we also see businesses who like to take a self-managed, hands-on approach. Getting down and dirty with employee data, looking after their own comms, sourcing the all-important rewards (of course) and managing every aspect of their programme.

Either way, it can be a rewarding experience (no pun intended) for both employer and employee; but which is the best approach?


Let’s first start with the bells and whistles option; the fully managed employee rewards programme.

A fully-managed programme pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. If your organisation is new to the rewards game, getting external help to plan and build your rewards strategy is a logical tactic.

The same goes for if perhaps you already have a programme in place – this is because having an unbiased or independent take on your rewards programme can highlight issues which perhaps have gone unnoticed or need that expert eye to ensure it remains relevant and engaging with your staff not just in the present, but in the future, too.

That expert input is perhaps the most important element of a fully managed programme.

This is because a common mistake we often see is having a scheme that may have some brilliant rewards and, on paper at least, be popular with employees. Dig a little deeper however, and it can be the case that they’re only working for the top performers and are in fact, leaving most employees behind.

It’s not just strategic nous you’re getting from a fully managed programme.

Sourcing and supplying the most effective rewards and keeping it front and centre of your employees’ minds can take up a lot of time – not great if you have limited HR resource.

With a managed programme, this is generally taken care of by your provider, who’ll not only deal with sourcing and fulfilment of your rewards, but also be on hand to communicate the programme and handle any problems that might arise, too.

So, a managed programme provider gives you the support, service and expertise required to implement a successful rewards strategy. Surely there can’t be any downsides?


Yes, it’s true that when implemented correctly, a fully-managed rewards programme can do wonders for your employee engagement, productivity, retention…. We could go on… However, even though rewards programmes are one of our specialities, it would be misleading to say there were absolutely no cons to them!

The main barrier many businesses come up against when looking to implement a fully-managed reward scheme is the cost.

Depending on the size of your workforce and the scope of work required, they can easily eat into even the healthiest of HR budgets; so, it’s essential you take the time to do your groundwork and research beforehand. If your current approach to rewards is working just fine, is there really any need to change it? Certainly, something to think about…

Lastly, the end-to-end process of devising and implementing a managed rewards strategy can take time. This is because every organisation’s workforce is different; facing its own unique challenges with a whole host of demographics, backgrounds, visions and values to consider. As the old adage goes, ‘Good things take time’; so, patience and steadfastness are definitely required!

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Like we mentioned earlier, a self-managed reward programme is perfect for those who prefer to have a hands-on approach to how they support their workplace culture. And, especially with smaller businesses, it might actually be the better option.

Self-managed schemes work best when the decision makers and those in control really know their workforce. With smaller organisations, there’s a better chance you’ll know what motivates and encourages your entire workforce than one that has multiple locations or has over 50 or so employees.

There’s also the cost factor to consider.

A self-managed scheme will be considerably simpler and lower cost than a managed alternative – making it a viable option if you have a restricted budget to play with or only a small workforce. Plus, if you’re the one making the decisions, you can certainly have the freedom to manage the scheme as you see fit.



Make no mistake: Planning and running an effective rewards programme is an involved business; needing constant monitoring, reporting and evaluations to ensure it’s doing the job of motivating your workforce and also, attracting the best workers the workforce has to offer.

No small task there, then…

The cost factor can also be something of a double-edge sword. Yes, you’ll save on the budget sheets by doing all the work yourself, but you could end up being significantly time-poor.

If you have a small or inexperienced HR team, you may find the rigours of self-managing your own rewards scheme could be a little too much to bear.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there are the rewards themselves! Sourcing and supplying rewards that will really engage with your employee is a job in itself! If you’re unfamiliar with using rewards to motivate and incentivise staff, it can be a rough ride figuring our what works, what doesn’t and what offers the best return on your investment.

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