Freedom of Choice for Success of Employee Rewards Programs

Workplaces have changed significantly over the past several decades and have become increasingly employee-centric. The need to keep the employees engaged and motivated has made it necessary for organizations to develop and implement effective employee recognition and rewards programs. These programs have become so integral to the work-culture that organizations need to focus on the aspects that are important for success of employee rewards programs.

One such factor is the choice of reward options for the program. Here, the common mistake that organizations make is to rely on popular options and what has worked well in the past.

Why Standard and Popular Options for Employee Rewards do not work well?


As mentioned before, it is quite common for organizations to choose certain popular items such as iPods, gift cards of top brands, high-end watches or even company branded merchandize for use as employee rewards. Sadly, this strategy fails to provide the desired results, especially when organizations tend to give the same kind of rewards repeatedly all employees. This all-size-fits-all strategy may actually backfire as employees might feel bored and disinclined to receive the same reward that their coworker might have received previously.
This might make the reward seem more like a formality rather than a sincere attempt on the part of the organization to recognize and appreciate their hard work and dedication of their employees. After all, not everyone might be keen to get the same kind of item as a reward. Most importantly, it does not take into account the individual preferences of the employees and makes them feel that their employers are either unaware or not interested in knowing about it.
Hence, simply following the trend of popular reward items or what has worked in the past may actually cause the program to become ineffective over a period of time. It can even leave the employees feeling disappointed with the overall program. It might actually lower their motivation levels rather than enhancing it which is the key objective of such employee reward programs.

Why is Freedom of Choice so Important for Success of Employee Rewards Programs?


In order to make their rewards program truly effective in terms of enhancing employee engagement and productivity, organizations need to look at the option of allowing the employees to choose their own rewards. In fact, those organizations who have already implemented this strategy are getting great results from their programs. This strategy can be implemented by setting a fixed budget or a range for every award and providing them with a reasonable number of meaningful options within that budget.
An employee rewards portal with a catalogue of reward items for different budget ranges is the easiest way to implement this strategy. These options could be various physical items such as electronics, lifestyle products or even experiences. The rewards portal should be backed by proper logistics processes to get the items delivered to the employee. A simpler option which many organizations are following these days is to have a catalogue of vouchers of different brands and denominations as part of the employee rewards portal. Individual employees can pick and choose the items or vouchers that they want to be based on their personal preferences giving them complete freedom of choice.

What are the Benefits of Freedom of Choice in Employee Rewards?


Organizations need to constantly seek new and better ways to keep their employee reward programs exciting and interesting. The strategy of making it possible for employees to decide the reward item they receive is an effective way of ensuring the same. Such a strategy benefits the organizations in many ways, as discussed below:
1.     Employees Feel Empowered
Granting the employees the freedom to choose their own reward gives them a sense of empowerment. They are likely to feel motivated by the fact that in addition to being considered worthy of being rewarded, they also get to select what they can take as the reward.
2.     Promotes Workforce Diversity
As the employees get a chance to choose the reward they consider most suitable to their taste, their sense of individuality gets a boost. They feel more secure about being different from their co-workers and this feeling helps in promoting diversity among the workforce. Employees can feel comfortable and confident about their different backgrounds, beliefs and preferences as members of the same workforce.
3.     Increases Engagement Levels
Having the option to choose their own rewards based on their personal preferences, creates a sense of excitement among employees as they aspire to get the reward of their choice. This increases their level of engagement and they strive to perform better and work towards getting the desired reward.
4.     Creates a Positive Organizational Culture
With employees being more engaged and happy with the rewards policy, the organizational culture also improves significantly. This impacts the market goodwill and employer brand value of the organization positively. It also enhances employee retention.

Organizations need to think beyond the standard and popular options for rewards to ensure the success of employee rewards programs. The freedom of choice when it comes to employee rewards is critical for deriving the desired result from such programs.

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Freedom of Choice for Success of Employee Rewards Programs
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