Survey Says Employees Prefer Gift Card Incentives

By Brian Parlotto, Executive Vice President at InComm Payments


Incentive programs can be a valuable tool for organizations to reduce costly employee turnover, and the most successful programs ensure employee rewards are meaningful. To help organizations better understand how employees feel about workplace recognition, InComm InCentives conducted a 2022 survey of more than 1,200 full-time workers based in the United States. The report found a significant number of employees feel underappreciated, but a monetary-based incentive program may help reduce that trend and improve retention.

Low Workplace Recognition Leads to Low Employee Retention

According to the InComm InCentives report, almost half of employees are considering or actively looking for a new job. The factors influencing a worker’s decision to leave their job will vary on a case-by-case basis, and not every factor is within an organization’s will to control. One factor they can affect is how employees are recognized in the workplace.

A significant segment of the workforce values recognition: 39% of surveyed employees cited a lack of appreciation as a reason to look for a new job, while 21% of employees said recognition from co-workers and managers is equal to or more important than salary considerations. These findings emphasize the important role that reward and incentive programs can play in keeping employees satisfied with their employers.

While such a conclusion may seem straightforward, many organizations fall short in appreciating their workforce. Despite 80% of employees saying they currently have a positive company culture, only 13% of employees report feeling recognized by their executive team. Moreover, 59% of employees feel less appreciated and connected to remote teams.

Employers that recognize the value of workplace incentives have an opportunity to stand out from their competition in attracting talent. The next question to consider is how workers prefer to be recognized for their performance.

Employees Appreciate Gift Cards

Every individual has their own unique tastes, which can make it a challenge for employers to build an incentive program with rewards that every employee will appreciate. A simple place to start is with items that offer recipients a degree of choice in how they can redeem their reward. This assessment aligns with the results of the InComm InCentives report, which found employees ranked gift cards and monetary bonuses as the top two types of recognition they most prefer to receive.

Gift cards, in particular, are an effective tool for incentive programs because they deliver benefits to both the giver and the recipient. Organizations can recognize high-performing employees across several office locations, even virtual workers in home offices, by delivering a physical gift card to their desk or a digital gift card to their inbox. Gift cards can also be complemented by a personal note that brings an extra level of appreciation to employees. Workers, in turn, have the option to spend a gift card on the item or experience that is most meaningful to them.

However, 42% of surveyed employees say their workplace does not offer a monetary or gift card recognition program. Organizations that act now to incorporate gift card and monetary rewards into their incentive programs will be better positioned to attract workers who appreciate being recognized with these items.

Partnering Up on Incentives

There are a wide range of gift cards that organizations can select for their incentive programs, from closed-loop cards for a specific retailer to open-loop cards for multiple brands. Partnering with a payments technology expert can help employers source the right kind of gift cards that align with their organizational needs and their employees’ general tastes. With the right rewards in place, organizations will be better equipped to deliver meaningful recognition to team members, improve employee satisfaction within the workplace, and reduce turnover.

For more of the latest insights on gift cards and incentive program solutions, visit Subscribers of The Gift Club can also email the InComm Payments team at to ask questions and explore adding gift card rewards to their incentive programs.


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