www.cos-mag.com
Aug 31, 2010

Forget the swag: Wow them with branded corporate incentive cards

By David Jones
With more than half of U.S. employers reporting that they’ve already lost a significant number of their top talent in the first half of this year, companies of all sizes find themselves focusing on retention efforts to help prevent their most valuable resource from walking out the door. Although not unexpected-dissatisfaction and job change among workers is common in the wake of a recession-the scale of exodus may be unprecedented this time around as technological advances now make it easier for workers to change jobs without the hassle of relocating, essentially opening up worldwide employment opportunities.

Ensuring that employees remain engaged, feel appreciated and invested in is critical to retaining the talent that is needed to help rebound from an economic downturn. While desktop trinkets and other “swag” provide an outward symbol of recognition and appreciation from the company, these items may actually do little toward reinforcing employee loyalty and engagement-especially since, in most cases, these items remain at the workplace where they are “out of sight, out of mind” when the employee is away from the office.

As a more flexible, portable and affordable alternative, some companies have begun using pre-paid Visa corporate incentive cards to reward employees, allowing them to enjoy their hard-earned accolades in virtually any way they choose: a special dinner out with friends and family, shopping for the latest electronic gadget or even taking care of basic necessities like gas and groceries. Redeemable anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted, pre-paid Visa incentive cards provide an all-purpose corporate incentive reward that is sure to please any employee, will definitely be put to good use and never goes out of style.

Custom cards deliver personal touch
For an added stroke of pizzazz, some companies, like Incentive CardLab.com, offer employers the ability to create unique, custom-branded incentive cards that incorporate the company’s logo and a message. These special cards provide a more personal touch when used to reward employees and can help reinforce loyalty and perpetuate the corporate brand. Once available only to large companies with equally large budgets, custom-branded incentive cards are now affordable enough to allow even small businesses the opportunity to “wow” employees with this unique and valuable reward.

With easy and convenient customization and delivery options, personalized pre-paid incentive cards provide a memorable way to recognize employees at an affordable price for nearly any size business or budget. Available in virtually any quantity and any denomination from $5 to $2500, customized cards can even be delivered-in as few as two business days-inside a personalized greeting card.  

Rewards for any occasion
Customized corporate incentive cards provide a unique and valuable reward in a variety of situations, to provide incentives, reward service and show the company’s appreciation for the talent that is so crucial to its success. Here are just a few ideas:

1. Employee bonuses and incentives: Rewarding employees for their achievements and hard work is vital maintaining morale, engagement and loyalty. Customized pre-paid incentive cards provide a tangible, yet flexible, gift of recognition for rewarding the achievement of sales and service goals, safety standards and other key performance metrics.

Unlike “off the shelf” cards, customized incentive cards that carry the company’s brand message and/or logo remind the employee of the reward each time it is used, reinforcing the company’s appreciation and the employee’s loyalty. As an added bonus, the cards also spread the brand message to every venue in which they are used – the restaurant server or store cashier will see the card, creating a valuable brand impression.

2. Recognition for birthdays and years of service: Everyone likes to be remembered on their special day, and employees who have committed years of service to the company deserve recognition for their loyalty. Many firms leverage custom pre-paid Visa incentive cards as service anniversary gifts to reward employees for their years of service. Cards can even be custom-designed with the employees’ total number of years of service and delivered – either directly to the employee (at home or at work) or to the company for hand delivery – in a customized greeting card with a message of appreciation from the company.

3. Creative alternative to holiday bonuses or gifts:  Pre-paid custom incentive cards also provide an excellent alternative to traditional employee holiday bonuses. Not only are they more unique, impactful and impressive than cash or a bonus included as part of a paycheck, but because they are FDIC insured, they’re also safer than cash. Backed by the Visa network, they can be redeemed virtually anywhere, for both in-store purchases and online.

In addition to rewarding employees’ for their performance and building morale, customized, branded Visa incentive cards reinforce loyalty with a repeated association with the company. This kind of reinforcement can be crucial to retention efforts at a time when employees’ dissatisfaction and propensity to “jump ship” at the first available opportunity remain high. By making employees feel appreciated for their hard work and valued as a critical member of the organizational team, companies can help stem the tide of employee exodus and maintain a stronger recovery position as the economy rebounds. As an added bonus, customized cards also double as a marketing outreach program, even when passed out internally, to create top of mind awareness for your brand each and every time the card is used.

David S. Jones is CEO of CardLab, Inc., a leader in customized, pre-paid Visa gift cards for employee incentives, customer rewards and personal gift-giving. The company’s easy-to-use custom card design and distribution services make it simple, fast and affordable to send FDIC-insured gift cards in any denomination from $5 to $2500 to anyone, with no minimum order and no setup fee. With more than 15 years’ experience in the payments and electronic commerce industries, Jones has served as Vice President of Corporate Development at Fiserv, Inc., leading the company’s payment strategy. Prior to BillMatrix and Fiserv, Jones served as Remittance Product Group Head & Vice President of Payment Strategy for JP Morgan Chase. He also founded Billserv, a leading electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) provider. Jones holds an Executive MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tx.