Gift Cards Make Safety Motivation Simple

Motivated employees keep companies strong and continually progressive.

Gift card companies are a popular choice among corporations that give their employees motivational incentives for job performance and safety. It’s important to reward employees for performing their job well—and safely— by letting them know they are appreciated for their efforts. The byproduct of this is that your company will be rewarded with lowered insurance rates for safe work behavior and increased productivity from a decrease in employee absenteeism.

With the possibility of safety regulatory organizations performing impromptu audits at your work site at any time, incentive program directors continually have to think of rewards that will motivate their employees to be safe on the job, in order to reduce their insurance claims.With that being said, gift cards are quickly entering the safety motivation equation.

Gift card companies largely serve companies and organizations that provide employees with incentives for motivational and recognition purposes. Additionally, these handy bits of plastic carry big value as corporate gifts. According to the most recent study performed by the Incentive Federation,merchandise gift cards had the highest effectiveness of all motivational methods used by incentive program directors.

Gift card companies are relatively new, and growth within the industry has been rapid. For example, the Incentive Gift Card Council has grown from six members in 1996 to 174 in 2008. A study performed by research publisher Packaged Facts,“U.S.Market for Prepaid Cards with a Focus on Gift Cards,” projected gift cards sales to increase by $14 billion by 2012, pushing the gift card market to more than $52 billion in sales.

The Incentive Federation study also said the average annual company budget for merchandise incentives was $119,008,with 80 percent of those companies using merchandise incentive gift cards for employee rewards and recognition. The study also projected 59 percent of companies that currently distribute employee incentives planned to increase their incentive budget through the end of 2009.

Many Advantages
What steps have gift card companies taken in order to keep pace with their growing industry? With the Internet emerging as a top information outlet for consumers, Web sites have a specific focus on making site navigation clear and easy to follow. Companies can customize cards by adding their logo to a box or card sleeve—or to the card, in some cases—adding a personal touch to the gift. Additionally, established gift card companies regularly update and increase their card selection in an effort to provide more options for different demographics and preferences. Other advantages for companies include quick turnaround time, discount rates for bulk orders, and the ability to personalize the card with a message or company logo.

“The time saving and fulfillment factor that gift card programs deliver are quite impressive. It’s an added value that most companies recognize immediately,” said Lizz Wheeler, vice president of marketing for National Gift Card.

Why would brand names that sell their own gift cards have their cards sold through a gift card company? Quite often, businesses are looking for ideas for motivational, incentive, or gift purposes. Gift card companies offer a wide selection from which to choose. “It’s much like one-stop shopping,”Wheeler said. “Since most companies run with lean staff, their time is limited.Working with a gift card company offers them the opportunity to get plenty of options, as well as fulfillment, for their programs.”

Making Rewards Memorable
Motivational incentives and rewards are typically distributed to employees during the winter holiday season, but for employers that are required to keep high levels of safety and must constantly comply with industry regulations, motivational incentives need to be distributed throughout the year.Some 4 million employees suffer non-fatal injuries or illnesses per year, resulting in an estimated annual cost of $125 billion in the United States.

Indirect costs also arise, such as paying employees overtime to compensate for an injured worker’s absence, training replacement workers, and repairing damaged equipment. With the large number of injuries and the high cost they bring to companies, there’s every reason for companies in high-risk job sectors to engage in employee safety programs.

Employee motivation keeps companies strong and continually progressive, as suggested by the Incentive Federation’s study, which found 77 percent of incentive program directors at large companies view distribution of employee incentives as an investment, rather than lost revenue.

According to the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement, managers reported non-cash reward programs are more effective for nine out of 10 organizational objectives: creating positive communication, increasing customer satisfaction, increasing profitability, increasing retention, motivating specific behaviors, improving customer acquisition, improving product quality, improving teamwork, and reinforcing organizational values.

Gift cards and non-cash incentives are also a more memorable reward than cash. They create more excitement than a cash incentive gift, which will most likely become faded away with other general expenses in employees’ budgets.Whether the employee uses his gift card reward to supplement the purchase of an expensive item such as a computer or pays for lower-cost merchandise in full, the gift card reward creates trophy value for the employee.

Gift card companies now have their own professional organization, the Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC), which is a strategic industry group within the Incentive Marketing Association. IGCC’s purpose is to educate the incentive marketplace and the corporate community about the benefits of gift cards.

There’s no doubt: Gift cards are here to stay. Motivation for employee safety through the use of gift cards is now a very popular option, one that allows program directors to provide their employees with multiple choices while saving money and reducing purchasing stress.

Bottom line: The benefits of gift cards are many because they are perceived as high-value gifts and save companies substantial cost.

This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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