Are Your Employee Awards Black-Friday Enabled?

Are your employees Black Friday enabled?

It’s Thanksgiving time here in the United States. So you might expect that this week I’d be blogging about gratitude, thankfulness, and pie. (Mmm, pie.) But we covered gratitude last week, so I’ve decided to skip right ahead to another important tradition that takes place this week. Shopping! Make way for Black Friday.

For those who live overseas, Black Friday has become a huge shopping phenomenon in the U.S., where fantastic and unexpected prices on consumer goods brings out the deal-seekers in droves.

It’s a great way to jump start holiday shopping or splurge on something special you’ve been eying all year. And for those of us who have received recognition lately, it is also a great opportunity to redeem those awards for gift cards to purchase that something special.

I once worked for a company that gave out frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving. I cannot begin to express— as I lugged that turkey to my car and strapped into the passenger-side seatbelt— how much I would rather have been given the opportunity to buy myself something on Black Friday.

Now, you don’t usually see me focus much on rewards. At Globoforce we have one of the best global reward networks in the world, but we still stress that it is “the praise, not the prize” that is the most important aspect of recognition. And that is definitely true. But sometimes we miss an opportunity to talk about the impact of a great reward.

That’s because the quality of a prize is also very important. It sends a clear message about the value you put on your employees.  We value things that have weight to them.  In fact, our Fall 2012 Workforce Mood Tracker survey revealed that nearly 75% of workers find eThankyous with no reward underwhelming or disappointing. A great reward is one that extends the recognition moment far beyond the initial thank you.

What makes a reward great?

  • It’s timely: The excitement implicit in receiving an award is greatly dissipated when you have to wait weeks or months for its arrival. Studies show that a reward in close approximation to desired behavior is more likely to reinforce that behavior. The ability to be spontaneous doesn’t hurt, either.
  • It’s personal: The more generic the reward, the less it makes people feel like their value as an individual matters. The more personal a reward, the more it will drive affective commitment.
  • It’s valuable: Valuable doesn’t mean expensive. It means the reward should be something that an employee actually wants or needs. Which means they should be able to choose it for themselves.

Which brings me back to Black Friday. Chances are many of your employees will be part of the madness this November 29th and Dec 2nd. In 2012, $59.1 billion was spent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone. That’s 139.4 million adult shoppers, or roughly 1 in 3 American employees.

When your employees spot that special item, wouldn’t you like them to associate that great feeling and excitement of buying it with your company and the work they do there?

To that end, here are five ways to make sure your recognition and reward program is Black-Friday enabled:

  1. Offer Maximum Choice: Empowering employees to tap into Black Friday deals is only going to work if you have a broad reward network of brands and stores that they can choose from.
  2. Make it Mobile: If you’re not offering smartphone-based eRewards to your employees, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Sixty-one percent of U.S. retailers plan to offer digital gift cards in the next three years, and according to Forrester, in-store purchases will account for 45% of mobile payments by 2017, up from 4% in 2012.
  3. Make it Instant: eRewards let employees redeem their awards for a gift card right at the registers or to catch an instant cyber deal before it expires. That is a huge bonus for Black Friday, when you don’t know where (or when) the deals will be.
  4. Make it Secure – eRewards keep all your electronic gift card rewards organized and handy on your smartphone. That way they are always with you when you need them, and cannot be lost.
  5. Go Global – Why limit Black Friday to just your employees in the U.S.? It turns out that Black Friday is already going global. Make sure your reward network and eRewards can be accessed all over the world.

Whether you plan to shop this weekend or not, I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving and that you’ve already thought about the 3 things you are thankful for at work and home. I know I have, and one of them is definitely the amazing readers of this blog. (We’ve been fortunate enough to increase our readership 300% since this time last year!)

So thank you for that and have a great Turkey Day!

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