Archive for the 'gift card awards' Category


     oc tanner

  taj mahal

One of the buildings above is the Taj Mahal, the other is the corporate headquarters of the largest employee Years of Service award company in the industry.

Believe it or not, the latest market research conducted by Incentive Magazine showed that close to 40% of all Years of Service programs use gift cards as some of their award options.

It wasn’t too long ago that you would never see gift cards in employee anniversary programs for several reasons.  First, the major recognition companies spent millions of dollars marketing their traditional awards such as company identified jewelry items, crystal, clocks, watches and the like.  Second they used very sophisticated training programs for their salesforces as well as for clients building a mystique that only deluxe trophy type merchandise would be proper to recognize an employee who remained at a company for a period of time usually in 5 year cycles  starting at 1, 3, or 5 years.  And lastly, they created excellent software platforms that made is very easy for a client to purchase a turnkey employee service award program.

So what changed?  How did gift cards start to become an option in these programs?  It certainly wasn’t because the companies that specialized in gift card systems spent millions in advertising, or marketing or a sales force that was trained to call on the clients. And it wasn’t because they built sophisticated electronic platforms to implement them.  It came about because clients were getting tired of paying very hefty premiums over retail price and employees were asking for more choice and a better value.

With the age of the internet anyone could do a quick search to determine the value of an award, it didn’t take long for the employees to ask why the award that they understood cost $250 or $500 actually had a value of only $125 or $250.  That was the rule rather than the exception.

Gift cards are a part of Years of Service programs because it gives your employees what they want without incremental cost to you.  If you are going to spend $250 or $500 on an award, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure that your employee receives as much of that budget as possible?  The traditional recognition companies will fight long and hard to keep you from putting gift cards in program.  They know that once in, they will lose prized profit dollars year after year.  But do you really want to support their Taj Mahal corporate offices at the expense of your employees?

If you’re interested in learning about a high value, low cost gift card recognition system that is easy to implement please contact us above.


06 18th, 2013

carrot stick

In a recent newsletter, World at Work, the Total Rewards Association, discussed some interesting results of a national survey of employer views on the use of employee health incentives.  The research was conducted by the Midwest Business Group on Health in April of 2013.  Highlights of the findings are as follows:

  • 82% of the companies had some form of incentives or disincentive s in place
  • There is a growing interest in outcomes-based incentives (achieving targeted biometric goals)
  • Most employers determined that incentives were necessary to get employees to participate

“Our national survey found over 80% of responding employers are using some form of incentives, with 41% using or planning to use outcomes-based incentive to increase engagement and participation in employer-sponsored programs.”  Larry Bores President MBGH

  • 13% of employers responded that they are currently using outcome-based incentives, 28% are planning to launch them over the next two years and 40% indicated they were studying the issue.
  • Of those currently implementing programs, 54% tie incentives to both outcomes-based measures as well as incremental improvement to the outcomes
  • 94% of employers used onsite screening to capture biometrics and that employee feedback was overwhelmingly positive
  • Of the 18% who did not use incentives, 53% reported it was because it was not a part of their culture, and 47% were not sure it worked.
  • The main incentive awards used were reduced premiums at 62%, gift cards at 38% and some type of program merchandise at 35%.
  • Employers using disincentives increased the employee share of premium for non-compliance and 14% have higher plan deductibles or out of pocket fees.
  • The most incented activities were biometric screenings at 70% and risk assessments at 78%
  • The greatest disincentive at 78% was for tobacco use
  • 71% of the employers said their incentive programs were very successful and 45% the disincentive strategy was “very successful” or “successful.”

This last holiday season saw a record year in the purchase of gift cards.  Early reports show that about 8 in 10 consumers gave gift cards and the gift card volume approached $30 billion for the holiday.  It’s no wonder then why gift cards have been the most popular award used in the incentive and recognition award programs for the last several years. 

Many consumers purchase their gift cards at a gift card mall the offers several different cards to choose from.  These malls often include not only the closed loop cards specific to certain merchants, but also Visa or MasterCard .  Typically these malls carry an inventory of between 25 and 50 merchant cards.   

Research on gift cards late last year revealed that individual stores charge fewer fees for their branded gift cards than the all-purpose ones issued by banks.  These fees range from $2.95 to $6.95 per card. That may not seem like much until you realize that represents 12% to 27% on a $25 card, and the $25 cards just happen to be about 75% of all cards purchased on average.  In addition it was found that over 50% of the bank cards have some kind of monthly maintenance fee. The combination of these fees can approach 35-40% of a card before it is used. 

New credit card regulations do not allow banks to have expiration dates on their consumer bank card for at least 5 years.  What is not commonly known is that when used for an employee incentive or recognition program, these bank cards can have expiration dates starting as early as 3 months, with the average being 1 year.  This can create a significant loss of value. 

With the Award of Choice employee recognition card you can have your own gift card mall for your employees without the hassle of trying to procure 25-50 separate store gift cards.  And the Award of Choice card does not have any purchasing fees, monthly maintenance fees, or an expiration date.  But most importantly your employees the Award of Choice card is redeemable for over 500 of the most popular gift cards in the country.  Award of Choice is the best value and choice of any gift card system offered today.

12 18th, 2012


From all of us at

May the Christmas angel bring you a wonderful  holiday and

happy and healthy New Year.


11 27th, 2012

It’s hard to find an organization of any size that doesn’t have some form of employee recognition program, even if it’s just a years of service program.  So why don’t many of these programs work?

While there are a myriad of reasons, almost all of them written about over the last few years, this article from CBS Money Watch offers a little different perspective.  It was written by Jeff Haden an author of several books on business and investing that reached #1 on Amazon’s best seller list. He offers some advice that is pretty simple to follow yet very powerful in terms of producing results.  If you follow it you will take your employee recognition program to a new and more effective level.  Buy heeding his advice you will do more than just pay lip service to praising employees for their efforts.   

A recap of his recommendations is: 

  • See every employee as an individual.
  • Assume too soon is never soon enough.
  • Provide details that show you know what they have done.
  • Be genuine in your praise
  • Skip constructive criticism when recognizing good performance
  • Actively look for employees to praise.
  • Leverage the surprise factor.
  • Spot opportunities to share the “praise wealth.”

As mentioned, when you follow these simple steps recognizing employees will get easier over time.  You will be building a habit that feeds on itself.  When you recognize performance they will naturally perform better which will give you more achievements to recognize.