Prepaid – the key to unlocking meaningful corporate incentives

Does your company offer a reward scheme? If not, then perhaps it ought to. The use of incentives and rewards in the workplace can play a really important role in promoting a strong sense of corporate community and loyalty, and ultimately in altering the attitudes, behaviours and performance of your employees.

It comes down to psychology. If an employee believes they are working towards a particular goal or something meaningful, they are more likely to perform at their best. The lucky few, of course, find their jobs motivating in and of themselves. But according to our recent white paper that provides a snapshot of consumer attitudes in the corporate incentives space, three quarters of employees in the UK do not believe that their job is so rewarding that they don’t need an additional bonus. Over reliance on intrinsic motivation is a risky strategy – instead, using a reward scheme can be an excellent extrinsic motivation in the workplace.

So which rewards work best? Our white paper revealed that certain types of rewards are more likely to evoke certain behaviours in employees than others. People naturally prefer cash rewards but our research showed that cash is regularly treated like regular pay. Two thirds of those surveyed in the UK, France and Germany said that it was unlikely that they would choose to use cash in a different manner than they would their normal salary. The upshot is that cash rewards do little to create a strong positive association with the reward in question – for example, if you use your reward on household bills rather than a massage, you are much less likely to remember that good feeling you experienced when using your reward.

Creating this association is an important factor in motivating employees to ‘go the extra mile’. Richard Thaler, a Professor of Behavioural Science at the University of Chicago, claims that creating a separate “mental account” for rewards allows employees to create a stronger association between the award and the action – a practice that should be encouraged.

Over two thirds of respondents agreed that if they received a gift card as a reward they would be much more likely to use it in this ‘special’ manner. Prepaid cards can be a great way of doing this – not only do they allow the employer to tailor their rewards to individuals, but they also afford the same level of flexibility to the employee. However, gift vouchers and cards specific to a retail outlet, i.e. closed-loop, can restrict employees’ choice of reward. Open-loop gift cards, such as those offered by Ixaris, ranked second in order of preference behind cash in all three countries surveyed. Open-loop gift cards are almost as flexible as cash with the added benefit of protecting the reward from the household budget, maximising the reward’s value and benefit to the employee.

Ixaris’ prepaid cards are already helping to increase the effectiveness and tractability of corporate incentive programmes around the world. Our prepaid cards can be used anytime, anywhere, and are available within minutes of being issued. Through supporting multiple languages and currencies, organisations can reach international employees easily and cost-effectively. With the ability to create a completely branded card, companies can give a ‘pat on the back’ to their employees every time the cards are used, reminding and encouraging them to perform at their best – the ultimate goal of any reward scheme!

The market opportunity for the rewards and incentives industry is estimated to be nearly $80 billion for the year ahead. In a sector which is set for a boom, new technologies such as digitally delivered incentives will play a key role in driving this evolution.