More experiential rewards expected in 2018

In Engagement Stats, Service Awards by Lori McKnight

More experiential rewards expected in 2018.

Skydiving, anyone?

It’s that time of year again. The hustle of the holidays is over and the dreaded January credit card is due. If you received a lump-sum or holiday bonus, this incentive payout is likely already spent and will go directly to VISA, without passing Go.

For this reason and others (which I will get to in the next blog), forward thinking organizations are looking for new ways of optimizing their recognition and reward investments to drive employee performance and retain top talent all year long.

Thankfully, the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) publishes an annual industry outlook that tracks the vitality and variability in the US incentive, rewards, and recognition market (you can download the full report here).

According to the IRF survey, open gift cards, clothing, sunglasses, and symbolic plaques/trophies were the most frequently selected items by corporate end-users in 2017. Interestingly, experiential awards were used more last year than ever and respondents anticipate using this type of reward even more in the year ahead.

More experiential rewards expected in 2018. Skydiving, anyone?

The great thing about experiential gifts (besides the fact they don’t require shipping or wrapping) is that they are truly catered to the unique interests of the recipients. Giving employees an experiential gift as a thank you or reward for their contribution to the company’s success is extremely personal as you are making a connection to their hobbies/ pastimes/interests showing you care about them as a person AND an employee.

Benefits of experiential awards

Experiential rewards create memorable experiences which enhance the reward’s Idiosyncratic fit – the feeling an individual experiences achieving a goal, making a sale, beating a competitor or completing a task.

By recognizing hard-working employees you create an idiosyncratic connection that activates the reward receptor in the brain. The place where recognition happens. It’s this emotional connection that shows employees you care. Employees who feel this connection are less likely to leave, exhibit higher morale and improved productivity… all factors that help your bottom line.

Experiential rewards often fit into these three categories:

1. Adventure/Travel

The list of adventure events is varied and grows by the day. Some of the more popular activities organized by companies are kayaking or whitewater rafting experiences, exotic car rallies or eco-races.

Choosing an adventure your employee has talked about but never had the time or money to do will make a positive impression on them AND all the people they tell where their company sent them!

2. Art, Music and Sports Tickets

The best gifts are thoughtful and spark of feeling of pride and accomplishment. Concert tickets, an art gallery or museum membership, tickets to a favorite sporting event are widely used means of giving thanks and rewarding others for outstanding performance. Choosing tickets that relate to the interests of your employees creates long-lasting memories, often enjoyed throughout the year.

3. Tours and Classes

More than a trend, experiential tours and classes encourage employees to engage the senses with memorable, hands-on experiences. Whether it’s an intimate cooking demonstration in a chef’s kitchen, a local breweries tour or wine tastings, employees enjoy customized full-immersion tours that truly connect.

Sometimes, the best experiences are those given to others.

CSI STARS rewards include many of the experiential offerings above PLUS a Global Sharing option. With over one million charities to choose from, employees can use their points to help improve life for others around the world. Managers can even make a donation to a charity the employee supports or holds close to their heart.

For more performance reward ideas at every price point, visit us or contact us for a demo.

Author: Lori McKnight

Lori McKnight
Lori is Vice President Marketing for CSI STARS and a Certified Recognition Professional. Prior to CSI she worked at Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Youthography, a youth market research agency. Connect with CSI STARS on LinkedIN to learn how we help organizations cultivate a workforce that loves coming to work.