No More Guesswork: Here’s What Your Employees Want for the Holidays

2020 has had its fair share of challenges. Many businesses like yours have had to pivot strategies, shift employee work arrangements and re-evaluate internal processes to adjust to the impacts of COVID-19. And you’re not done yet.

There’s extensive pressure on you this upcoming holiday season to make sure you’re keeping employees motivated and showing them appreciation. Approximately 50 percent of Americans are working from home right now[1], many for the first time, and about half of them are worried their employer might not send them a holiday gift[1]. The pandemic has put stress on your workforce personally and professionally and acknowledging their efforts on your company’s behalf will go a long way in continuing to drive performance, loyalty and engagement through the remainder of the year and well into 2021.

You’re likely looking for opportunities to lighten the stress, pressure and expectations of your teams during the upcoming holidays. In lieu of more virtual meetings, holiday parties and happy hours, some of the most strategic businesses are giving the gift of time, and permission to step away, alongside a digital gift as the key focus for this year’s “new normal” holiday celebrations.

We partner with top companies to support a variety of employee reward and incentives efforts that take the guesswork out of holiday rewards. Via my company’s Omnicard.com website, we’re seeing an almost 30% increase in large prepaid and gift card orders as incentives used by employers to engage employees—replacing traditional events and annual activities no longer possible because of COVID. Our research[2] found that this year, 82 percent of employees surveyed would like to receive a gift card from their employer as a holiday gift. Respondents reported wanting gift cards because they allow them to choose what they want, can be delivered physically or digitally and they can re-gift them.

Need further proof the prepaid and gift cards are a perfect go-to option? Consider the following research findings on how employees want to be recognized:

  • Research[3] we ran before the pandemic this year showed that surveyed workers overwhelmingly prefer a gift card or prepaid card (43%) over traditional gifts like merchandise (1%), food (3%), travel (8%) and even a day off (14%) when it comes to receiving gifts or rewards from an employer.
  • More recently[1], we surveyed the workforce again in October and found that more virtual employees would rather have cash (31%) or a prepaid or gift card (20%) from their employer this year so they can treat themselves or buy something they need—as opposed to a virtual holiday party (11%).
  • 40% of employees surveyed anticipate getting a holiday gift from their employer—and digital-friendly, contactless rewards are favored[4]. Physical and digital gift cards can both be uploaded to mobile wallets, redeemed online and spent in-store for optimal flexibility.
  • Gift cards are regarded by employees as a key motivators in addition to driving feelings of being valued and increasing loyalty2. Most people[5] would be encouraged to work harder after receiving gift card rewards and feel that gift card rewards show that their employer values them.

Taking the opportunity to show meaningful appreciation to your employees during the holidays will help your business drive year-long benefits that directly contribute to your bottom line. Prepaid and gift cards have lasting impacts that benefit employers and employees alike. These cards are extremely versatile and give employees a chance to treat themselves to something they wouldn’t normally buy, or provide them with unexpected funds to buy something they need. Instead of guessing, and wasting time and money this holiday season, give your employees the rewards they want most.

[1] The “Holiday Rewards” study reflects findings of an online survey completed by 4,164 Americans in October 2020. In this study, the majority of respondents (63%) have worked remotely this year.

[2] The “2020 BrandedPay™ Holiday Shopping Preview” report is based on the findings in our Holiday Gifting 2020 study, an internet-based survey conducted by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network between August 24–31, 2020. The sample size included 1,500 respondents. Gift card category findings are based on 2018–2020 sales data from Blackhawk Network from over 50,000 merchant locations across the U.S.

[3] “BrandedPay: How People and Brands Connect Through Payments” is based on the findings of an internet-based survey conducted by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network between February 12 and March 17, 2020. The sample size included over 12,000 respondents in eight countries.

[4] The “2020 BrandedPay™ Holiday Shopping Preview” report is based on the findings in our Holiday Gifting 2020 study, an internet-based survey conducted by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network between August 24–31, 2020. The sample size included 1,500 respondents. Gift card category findings are based on 2018–2020 sales data from Blackhawk Network from over 50,000 merchant locations across the U.S.

[5] The “Receiving Incentives and Rewards from Your Employer” study was an internet-based study conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of Blackhawk Network between March 24–25, 2020. The sample size included 1,718 working U.S. employees ages 18–60.

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