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Four generations, one workforce and multiple reward strategies

By Adrian Warren, Senior Director of Product Management at Blackhawk Network

April 16 2021 - With life expectancy continuing to increase and the retirement age in the UK always on the up, the workforce today is truly multi-generational. Baby boomers, born in the 1950s and 60s find themselves sharing the coffee rounds with Generation Z, born in the noughties. Because of this wide age spread, there are a lot of differing and opposing needs from employees that business leaders need to navigate. This is especially true when it comes to rewards and benefits. However, a one-size-fits-all approach wonít cut it for the majority of employees, and it would be wrong for employers to determine benefits based on age alone.

Employers need to deliver what employees want from their benefits - choice. And the only way they can offer this is by communicating with their staff, finding out about their interests and needs and creating tailored rewards and benefits packages. Our research at Blackhawk Network found that there are more than 150 hobbies that are common interests across various ages groups. While there were some generational preferences, it became clear that assumptions cannot be made on interests based on age. For example, a Gen Z might like baking while someone in their sixties could well be an avid drummer. This means organisations canít risk second guessing rewards and benefits based on preconceptions; businesses have to get to know their staff on a personal level to find out what they actually want.

Reward with choice

The past year has been eventful, to say the very least. Our world has been turned upside down, and as a result, things we consider 'wantsí and 'needsí have also shifted. Weíve reassessed our lives, figured out whatís actually important to us, and itís only natural that this mindset shift would transcend our working lives. Pre-pandemic, many of us would consider a monetary reward as a priority when it came to benefits. Now, days off to spend with loved ones might top the list. Our research showed that only a third of employees (32%) believe their current workplace benefits are appropriate for home working, and over half (54%) believe they need to change permanently. So, what better time to mix things up?

For employers to hit the mark when it comes to benefits, choice has to be front of mind. Offering a range of options is a great way to increase and reward company loyalty.

Letís take cycling as an example. Itís soared in popularity over the past year, with 83% of people rekindling their love for biking during our recent national lockdowns. For these people, a cycle to work scheme, such as Cyclescheme would be beneficial and cater to their needs. It allows staff an easy and affordable way to purchase a bike, keeps them fit and healthy on their commute and means they can also do their bit to reduce their carbon footprint.

For the tech-savvy staff, access to the latest gadgets might be more up their street. With this in mind, a Techscheme that enables them to get their hands on the tech or home appliances they want or need by sacrificing a part of their salary each month would be a great option for them. This doesnít just include laptops or tablets; employees can purchase everything from games consoles to white goods to home security. Other members of your workforce may appreciate the financial benefit of a prepaid reloadable card such as bYond, which can be used to 'spend smartí at a range of retailers online and in-store.

To see success with a benefits and rewards programme, businesses have to offer tailored packages, suited to each individual employee. A strategy that offers multiple options will result in the greatest ROI, and ultimately, keep employees motivated and happy in their roles.

Little and often is key

Now we have established how to approach benefits strategies, business leaders need to know how often they should reward their employees. Too much, and it just becomes something employees will expect, causing them to lose that sense of gratification when they have worked hard for something. But, too little, and itíll leave employees feeling unmotivated and unrecognised. This frequency of rewarding will differ for every business, but we find that a little and often approach is commonly well-received by employees.

On the spot rewards, that cost very little but are given with meaning will fill employees with a sense of positive affirmation. They donít have to break the bank and can be as small as taking someone for drinks or gifting them a multiple-choice gift card related to one of their hobbies. An added bonus is that rewards ranging between £5 - £50 fall under the HMRCís non-taxable trivial benefit rules - everyoneís a winner.

Get to know your employees

All employees want to feel valued by their employer in some way, whether thatís for their ongoing hard work or commitment to the business. A benefits and rewards programme is one of the easiest and most effective ways to give employees what they want. Offering a scheme that is tailored to individual needs through choice is far more effective than a blanket approach.

Communication and choice have to be at the heart of any strategy. Businesses have to get to know their employees personally to truly understand what their employees want.


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