Which employee recognition gifts do employees really care about?


Why do employees need incentives?

Which incentives do employees value most?

Ready to reward your employees?


Which employee recognition gifts do employees really care about?

When it comes to boosting employee engagement and productivity, employee recognition gifts are one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal.

However, with so much choice when it comes to rewarding a job well done or simply incentivising staff retention, how do you know where to start?

In this post we’re going to take a look at why you should be recognising your staff, and what benefits employees want.

Why do employees need incentives?

Does your organisation take the view that an employee’s salary is all the incentive they need to do the job?

You’re half right.

Their monthly pay packet might be enough to get them into work every day, but it’s only going to get them working to the bare minimum standard. After all, why go the extra mile when there’s no recognition for doing so?

Research by Cornell University showed that immediate rewards increase ‘intrinsic motivation’ by linking an activity to a specific goal. When an employee is rewarded more frequently they’re more motivated to complete associated tasks.

Let’s look in more detail at some of the benefits offered by employee incentives and recognition.

Incentives increase productivity

Employees want to produce more when they can see a clear link between their output and rewards.

This fact is supported by numerous studies too.

The HAAS School of Business at UC Berkeley found that employees were 43% more effective and productive when they felt valued by the wider team and management, while research conducted by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found a similar effect of appreciation.

Incentives help to retain talent

A lack of recognition is one of the key drivers of staff churn.

Research by Deloitte found that organisations with recognition programmes had 31% lower voluntary staff churn than those without.

Of course, retaining talent is only half the battle—you also have to be able to attract it in the first place.

That’s not easy, and 73% of employers reported having difficulty attracting new employees last year, nearly triple the number from 2020 (26%). However, a robust incentives and reward strategy is a key driver of acquisition.

Make sure you communicate your employee recognition programme clearly with prospective new hires. For example, in the job ad, during interviews and the onboarding process. 

Incentives improve engagement and business outcomes

Not sure if your organisation can afford to invest in an employee incentives programme? Spending just 1% of company payroll on recognition is all you need to deliver a positive impact on engagement.

And that represents money very well spent.

As well as the boosts to productivity and talent retention, a recognition programme also makes it 12x more likely your organisation will have ‘strong business outcomes’.

Incentives boost morale

Prioritising employee happiness and mental wellbeing is essential if you want your workforce to reach its full potential, and recognition is closely linked with workplace morale.

Research by Happily.ai found a ‘strong relationship between the amount of recognition an employee receives and their happiness at work’. They found that out of 3,001 employees that described themselves as happy in their jobs, 80.7% were often or always recognised for a job well done.

Which incentives do employees value most?

No two organisations are the same, and there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution for every group of employees, but studies have found there are some incentives and employee recognition gifts that are more valued than others.

Employee benefits

An employee benefits platform isn’t a reward for exceptional performance, but a reward for simply being an employee of the company, as well as an incentive to stay.

A survey found that the most popular employee benefits were:

  1. Employee discounts (50%)
  2. Flexible working hours (40%)
  3. Ability to work remotely (37%)
  4. Time off for mental health (35%)
  5. Free COVID-19 tests/vaccination (25%)
  6. Subsidised gym membership (22%)
  7. Free counselling sessions (21%)
  8. Professional financial advice (21%)
  9. Professional food/nutrition advice (12%)
  10. Mindfulness/meditation apps (9%)

Health and wellness rewards

On average, Brits sit for 8.9 hours per day. For office workers, that number rises to 10 hours per day.

Sitting for more than four hours per day increases our risk of heart disease, diabetes, back pain and even cancer, so supporting your workforce’s physical wellbeing is essential—and they’re benefits employees want too. 

A survey conducted by Paychex and Future Workplace found that 62% of employees identified employee wellbeing as a key deciding factor when applying for a new job. This also includes mental wellbeing.

With that in mind, build health and wellness into your employee recognition programme. This could include making sure certain retailers and brands are represented in your discounts platform, running team building days that include fun physical activities or discounted gym memberships.

Employee gifts

Don’t underestimate the power of a thank you when someone’s done a great job or gone the extra mile, but sometimes an employee has done such a great job a simple thank you might feel inadequate.

This is where gifts come in.

Whether it’s eVouchers or gift cards for a specific retailer you know they love, a bottle of their favourite gin or a bespoke award, these relatively low cost rewards offer a huge amount of ROI.

Can’t decide what the employee would love most? A recognition prepaid card is the perfect solution, empowering them to spend their reward anywhere they wish. 

Ready to reward your employees?

With Sodexo Engage rewarding your employees for doing a great job, or simply providing a constant incentive to remain with the company, couldn’t be easier.

Our employee discounts platform boasts an award-winning range of offers, while our selection of rewards makes it easy to say ‘thank you’. Our recognition solutions include:

  • A comprehensive employee incentives platform—spark creativity and success in everyone and smash expectations every time. Keep your team focused on targets and keep everyone pulling in the same direction.
  • Recognition prepaid cards—providing you and your employees with the ultimate spending freedom. They’re accepted anywhere that accepts Visa, while they can be reloaded, meaning you don’t need to keep ordering a new stack every month.
  • Employee gift cards—we’ve got the best range of eVouchers and gift cards in the business, with over 80 brands to choose from that can be spent online or in-store.
  • Branded voucher cheques—one of our most popular reward options, voucher cheques can be designed around your organisation, while giving the recipient the opportunity to choose the reward of their choice.
  • Celebration packages—reward outstanding performance, long service or a company milestone with one of our employee celebration packages. We build a comprehensive celebration experience, taking a strategic approach that never fails to let everyone know they’re appreciated.

Ready to find out more about how we can help your organisation drive incredible performance, boost productivity and reduce staff churn?

Our experts are waiting to speak to you and build a bespoke incentives and rewards programme that will deliver exceptional ROI. Get in touch today and discover why we’ve been the provider of choice for organisations just like yours for over sixty years.