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Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Cash Back Rewards

Cash back rewards programs have revolutionized the way consumers think about the value they get from their purchases.

These programs, offered by credit card companies, retailers, and other businesses, effectively return a portion of the money spent back to the consumer, making every transaction slightly more rewarding. Essentially, cash back acts as a rebate that accumulates with each eligible purchase, allowing consumers to earn money back as they shop for everyday items or splurge on big-ticket products.

What are cash back rewards?

Cash back rewards for employees are a type of incentive companies provide to motivate and reward their staff. These rewards are typically a percentage of the money spent on certain transactions, which is returned to the employee.  

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

Why do companies offer cash back rewards to employees?

Companies offer cash back rewards to employees for several reasons:

(a) Employee motivation and performance: Cash back rewards can be a powerful motivator for employees. They encourage employees to increase their performance and meet their targets.  

Employees can receive cash rewards when they strive for top performance, go above and beyond, or meet set goals. This instills a sense of purpose and satisfaction from accomplishment and a job well done.

(b) Employee retention: Monetary incentives, including cash back rewards, can boost worker retention. When there is an incentive, employees are more likely to stay loyal.

(c) Employee recognition: Cash back rewards can play a powerful role in recognizing employees. They help employees feel valued and appreciated for their accomplishments.

(d) Financial well-being of employees: These incentives directly impact employees’ financial well-being. They provide financial rewards to recognize their performance or accomplishments.  

(e) Competitive advantage: In today’s highly competitive labor market, many organizations are reluctant to raise wages. Instead, they extend noncash benefits, including cash back rewards, to their workers.

When are cash back rewards distributed to employees?

The distribution of cash back rewards to employees can vary depending on the company’s policies and the structure of the rewards program.  

However, there are some common practices:

1. After performance evaluation: Many companies distribute cash back rewards after a performance evaluation period. This could be monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

2. Upon achievement of specific goals: If the cash back rewards are tied to specific goals or targets, they are typically distributed once the employee achieves these goals.

3. Promptly after recognition: To maintain the incentive’s power and perceived value, some companies aim to distribute rewards as soon after the project or timeframe completion as possible.

4. Regular intervals: Some companies may choose to distribute rewards at regular intervals, such as monthly or quarterly, regardless of specific achievements.

When are cash back rewards distributed to employees?

Here are some common scenarios for when cash back rewards might be distributed:

1. Regular schedule

Some employers distribute cash back rewards on a regular schedule, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. This schedule provides employees with a predictable timeline for when they can expect to receive their rewards.

2. End of financial period

Cash back rewards may be distributed at the end of a financial period, such as the end of a quarter or fiscal year. This timing allows the employer to assess performance metrics or expense reports before disbursing rewards.

3. Following expense reconciliation

If cash back rewards are tied to employee expenses, they may be distributed after expense reconciliation has been completed. This typically involves employees submitting expense reports, which are then reviewed and approved by appropriate personnel before rewards are distributed.

4. Incentive program completion

For incentive programs based on achieving specific goals or targets, cash back rewards may be distributed upon completion of the program or achievement of the goals. This encourages employees to stay motivated and actively participate in the program until its conclusion.

5. Credit card billing cycle

If cash back rewards are earned through corporate credit card spending, they may be distributed in accordance with the credit card billing cycle. Rewards could be credited to employees' accounts after each billing cycle or at specific intervals determined by the credit card issuer.

6. Following program enrollment

In some cases, cash back rewards may be distributed shortly after employees enroll in a rewards program or fulfill the initial requirements for participation. This can serve as an incentive for employees to sign up and start using the program.

7. Customized timing

Employers may choose to customize the timing of cash back rewards distribution based on their specific business needs, financial cycles, or other factors relevant to their organization.

How can employees earn cash back rewards?

Here are some common ways employees can earn cash back rewards:

1. Credit card rewards

Some employers offer corporate credit cards that accrue cash back rewards on purchases made by employees. Employees can earn cash back on their business-related expenses such as travel, dining, office supplies, and more.

2. Employee benefit programs

Employers may partner with banks or financial institutions to offer employee benefit programs that include cash back rewards. These programs might offer cash back on everyday purchases such as groceries, gas, and shopping.

3. Employee incentive programs

Companies may implement incentive programs where employees earn cash back rewards for achieving specific goals or targets. This could include meeting sales targets, exceeding performance metrics, or participating in wellness programs.

4. Employee purchase programs

Some employers provide employee purchase programs where employees can earn cash back rewards on purchases made through designated vendors or retailers. These programs often offer discounts or cash back incentives as a perk of employment.

5. Expense management systems

Employers may use expense management systems that allow employees to earn cash back rewards on business expenses submitted through the platform. Cash back rewards may be earned based on certain spending thresholds or categories.

6. Employee referral programs

Companies sometimes offer cash back rewards to employees who refer new hires to the company. Employees may receive a cash bonus or cash back incentive once the referred candidate is hired and meets certain criteria.

7. Health and wellness programs

Employers focused on employee well-being may offer cash back rewards for participating in health and wellness activities such as fitness challenges, smoking cessation programs, or preventive health screenings.

8. Work-related travel

For employees who frequently travel for work, some employers offer cash back rewards on travel-related expenses such as flights, hotels, and rental cars. These rewards can be earned through corporate travel programs or designated travel booking platforms.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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