Many of us are ransacking our closets for the coolest possible clothing we own right now; so it’s a stretch to ask for too much concentration around the upcoming holiday season.  The reality is, however, once September rolls around those year-end deadlines begin to pile up.  Next thing you know you’re scrambling to come up with holiday gifting ideas and racing the clock to get everything approved and ordered.  So July is actually a PERFECT time to start thinking about the best way to thank valuable employees and to show appreciation to your loyal business partners during the fourth quarter.

Holiday gifts and incentives do not have to be complicated or expensive to be appreciated; but they should be meaningful.  And Choice is perhaps the most meaningful gift of all.  At holiday time, in particular, there is a juxtaposition of want vs. need.  Our holiday Award of Choice allows each recipient to select a gift card that will help purchase groceries, take the family out to a holiday dinner, or to allow the purchase of a luxury item.

Being the gift GIVER is often difficult, particularly when you’re working with large and varied demographics.  A holiday Award of Choice gift makes it easy to please everyone of any age in every location, regardless of role or job level.  And if you prefer statistics to premise, consumer studies reveal that over 60% of employees would prefer to receive a gift card at holiday time; and more than half would prefer a gift card valued at $25 rather than a gift valued at $45.  Consider how that number would increase if you included a GIFT CARD OF THEIR CHOICE (rather than of YOUR choice) in the survey!

We make it easy.  With no expirations, no minimums, and no program costs every cent of your holiday budget will go towards the actual gift rather than towards fees your recipients will never benefit from.  Our holiday Award of Choice can be delivered virtually or by a personalized communication.  You give ONE gift, and the choice is theirs.

Let me give YOU an early holiday gift!  I’ll share information about our holiday Award of Choice program, show you exactly what your recipients will experience, and send you on your way to a stress-free holiday!

05 24th, 2016

A little boy choosing between a cupcake and apple...looks like the cupcake is the winner.

Will the traditional corporate gifts that were awarded to your parents and grandparents be effective in motivating and recognizing employees in today’s diverse workplace?

The Award of Choice card was developed by professionals in the recognition industry to provide the broadest selection of brands within a gift card program.  When you offer employees their choice of awards, they work harder to achieve your goals.  When the award is something that is personally meaningful and enjoyable, YOUR program objectives become THEIR program objectives.”

The Award of Choice program offers over 500 gift card brands!  See for yourself. 

Download a short white paper that will help you understand why award choice is such an important factor in designing an effective recognition program  UltimateChoice_Whitepaper Power of Choice

unengaged ppl

Many many employees will head out over the next few months for some well-deserved R&R with their families.

Did you know that one of the periods of lowest engagement at work is after a return from time off?  So if you subscribe to the belief that low engagement equals low performance, you’ll understand the importance of keeping your employees excited and sustaining the belief that they are valued and appreciated.

And remember, losing an employee that you’ve spent time to hire, train, and onboard is significant.  The cost of replacing an employee who leaves is at least 30% of that employee’s annual salary.  To put that in perspective, with a $150M annual payroll, just a 20% turnover would cost that company $9M a year!

Employees leave most often due to a LACK OF APPRECIATION AND PRAISE – not money!  A lack of something as simple as an unexpected “you did a great job” –  or “we couldn’t have done it without you.”

So jump on the summer bandwagon and foster a CULTURE OF RECOGNITION.  We make it easy to say thanks – Award of Choice offers each recipient his/her choice of over 500 gift card brands with no fees, no expiration, no minimums, and no contracts.





When considering an incentive effort to drive employee wellness, one of the first decisions to make is how much to spend on each employee. There has never been any definitive analytical proof that will show you how much it will take to motivate someone to change behavior, or for that matter what award will induce the most excitement.  For years the incentive industry has provided guidelines to help you decide: example:  X% of the salary for the program period, but there has never been any empirical evidence to support these rules.  The chart below will give you a good idea of what type of budget companies are using today.

A number of factors go into motivating behavior change.  And while one is the award itself, it is by no means the only one.  If you think by simply offering some type $50-$100 fitness device you are going to motivate an employee to change years of poor lifestyle choices then think again, it probably won’t.  But in combination with the other pieces of the wellness program (not the least of which is well designed communications) a choice of awards can be effective.

Following is a chart published in Incentive magazine comparing Safhow much budget companies invest, on average, per employees for their wellness programs.

Spend rate 2015 2016 Change
Under $50 42.8% 40.9% -1.9%
$50 to $99 18.2% 26.3% +7.8%
$100 to $199 10.2% 15.0% +4.8%
$200 to $499 11.8% 5.1% -6.7%
$500 to 999 11.2% 3.3% -7.9%
$1000 and more 5.9% 9.5% +161%

Almost 70% of companies researched use individual awards under $100.  When considering awards, don’t automatically use one in the fitness related field, not everyone wants one.  They may be good for introductory or communication reasons, but if you want to get the most motivation appeal out of your award budget, don’t give them what you  want them to have or what you think they want.  Let them choose what they want for themselves.  When they can choose their own award they will make your objectives their own.

According to Incentive magazines “Safety and Wellness IQ,” almost 50% of companies today have some sort of employee wellness program in place.  The biggest difference today is that most CEOs while eager to invest in wellness efforts, are demanding a better return on these investments.  Healthcare costs and healthcare insurance are high, too high, and companies are looking for everything they can do to reduce them.  With an aging workforce these numbers may only get higher.

A study conducted by the Global Wellness Institute, “2016 Future of Wellness at Work”, states the economic enormity of worker health is approaching 10-15% of global economic output.  Some economist’s estimate this can amount to over $2 trillion each year.  According to the research company Gallup, the cost to U.S. employers is $153 billion a year just counting workdays missed.  Whether these global estimations are pertinent to your company or not, unhealthy workers have been a persistently growing problem.

Wellness efforts of the past amounted to websites with articles about exercise and nutrition with links to other resources; and wellness coaches and or company nurses who did health risk assessments (HRA).  This communication effort often left it up to the worker to motivate them to “get healthy”.  Today, doing an HRA is just the starting point, the admission ticket to the program.  From a push using incentives to get employees involved by taking the HRA, today the effort is on participating, doing something to improve your health.  Programs goals have changed from getting employees to join to improving health and fitness and thus reducing costs.

Participative Goals
Another change in programs is not just focusing on people who are unhealthy, but getting to the rest of the employee base to ensure they don’t fall into chronic health conditions in the future.  Today it’s about what your programs stress, what you want your employees to do.  Incentives “2016 Safety & Wellness IQ” survey showed the top activities a program encourages are:


Activity Included in Programs
Physical fitness (walking, running, cycling, swimming, ets. 68.5%
Regular Medical Checkups 64.4%
HRA Survey 56.3%
Smoking cessation 54.8%
Monitoring Health Issues (hypertension, diabetes, etc.) 49.3%
Gym, Fitness Classes 41.1%
Obesity Reduction 39.7%

As all of these goals have specific and easy to obtain measurement are participative and outcomes based, awards can be easily used to achieve thems.  By using a wellness portal with video to  provide advice and material on all of these objectives, you  can appeal to your entire workforce, especially millennials.  Challeng goals and team objectives can also add to the interest because you can have groups supporting each other.

What Awards to Use

Incentives “Safety & Wellness IQ” survey, the top rewards in wellness programs are:


Award Type Included in Program
Retail & Bank Gift Cards 58.9%
Merchandise 41.2%
Cash 27.9%
Insurance Premium Reduction 25.5%
Individual Travel 10.3%
Experiential Awards (Spa treatments, etc.) 7.4%
Group Travel 4.4%

It’s no surprise that gift cards are the number one award group as the vast majority of individual budgets for these types of achievable objectives are less $50 to $100 ea.  And gift cards are by far the best value in that denomination of award especially considering the high margins on merchandise that tends to deflate the value and group or individual travel awards that are quite expensive.

Communications and Technology Are Key

 Communicating the range and complexity of health services can present a challenge. Individual motivation or apathy, sensitive health issues, and the cultural, geographic and demographic differences in your organization can all pose problems that need to be addressed when deciding on the communication strategy. Intranet portals, email campaigns, mobile devices, well thought out promotional items and the use of a host of Technology apps that speak to fitness can all help to make your program a success.

Activity trackers and wearable devises such as FitBit and smart watches are simple ways for employees to measure performance against goals.  The American Council on Exercise reports that “people are 30 to 40 percent more likely to be active just by wearing a fitness tracker.” By using gift cards redeemable for Amazon and other online suppliers you can help offset the cost of activity trackers that can be expensive. Two top apps that unlock this ability for iPhones and Android devices are Argus and Pacer, both free, as are a host of others..

Safety programs for years have used triggers to motivate intended behaviors to avoid accidents.  Wearables are a great trigger.  The device on your wrist, the blinking light and vibration are physical reminders to change your behavior. 

The Future

When you add financial planning, life style education, stress management and life-stage management to the equation, you move into the future from the wellness of the past to the entire well-being of the employee in the future.  With a wellness program designed to change every day habits and reinforce improvement, these holistic well-being programs can help improve business outcomes like productivity and employee engagement, essentially the health of the business.

Companies that have seen measurable success know that these wellness programs take time to show results.  They are long term objectives with very positive long term consequences.

There is abundant evidence to support the return on investment evident in the wellness programs of today.  A quick search of the net will provide many.  How is your wellness effort going?

If you are considering a Wellness program or looking for an award system that will enhance and strengthen the one you already have, you may want to consider taking a look at the Award of Choice,  It allows your employees to choose virtually any gift card they want.

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