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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Employee gift cards

Employee gift cards are prepaid cards provided by employers to their workforce as a form of recognition, appreciation, or incentive. These cards are a versatile and thoughtful way for companies to acknowledge the hard work and contributions of their employees. Here are key aspects associated with employee gift cards:

  • Recognition and appreciation: Employee gift cards serve as a tangible token of appreciation, recognizing the efforts and achievements of individuals within the organization. They contribute to fostering a positive and motivated work environment.
  • Incentive programs: Companies often use gift cards as part of incentive programs to encourage specific behaviors, such as meeting sales targets, achieving performance milestones, or participating in wellness initiatives. The flexibility of gift cards makes them appealing rewards.\
  • Flexibility for recipients: Employee gift cards typically come in various denominations and can be redeemed at a range of retailers, restaurants, or online platforms. This flexibility allows recipients to choose items or experiences that align with their preferences.
  • Boosting morale and employee satisfaction: The act of giving gift cards contributes to boosting morale and overall job satisfaction. It demonstrates that the company values its employees and is willing to invest in their well-being and happiness.
  • Occasions and celebrations: Employee gift cards are often distributed during special occasions, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, holidays, or as part of recognition programs. These moments contribute to a positive corporate culture.
  • Ease of distribution: Gift cards are easy to distribute, whether through physical cards handed out in person or digital formats sent via email. This simplicity makes them a convenient option for companies looking to implement recognition or incentive programs.
  • Customization and personalization: Some companies allow employees to choose the type of gift card they receive, adding a personal touch to the recognition process. This customization ensures that the reward is meaningful to the individual recipient.

What are employee gift cards?

Employee gift cards are a form of non-monetary incentive or reward provided by employers to recognize and appreciate the contributions of their employees.

These are typically in the form of prepaid cards that can be used at various retailers, restaurants, or for online purchases. The idea is to give employees the flexibility to choose a reward that suits their preferences, making the recognition more personalized.

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

Are there specific occasions or milestones where employee gift cards are typically given?

The specific occasions or milestones where employee gift cards are given,

  • Performance recognition: Employee gift cards are often awarded for outstanding performance, meeting or exceeding targets, or displaying exceptional skills and dedication.
  • Work anniversaries: Employers frequently use gift cards to celebrate work anniversaries, acknowledging employees' commitment and loyalty to the organization.
  • Achievement of milestones: Whether completing a significant project or reaching a career milestone, employees may receive gift cards as a tangible token of appreciation.

Can employees request specific brands or retailers for their gift cards?

It may vary from the policies of the organization.

  • Policy variation: Company policies regarding gift card selection can vary. Some organizations allow employees to request specific brands or retailers, aiming to enhance personalization and satisfaction.
  • Pre-approved options: Employers may pre-select a range of popular brands or retailers to ensure consistency and ease of management. Employees can then choose from this pre-approved list when selecting their gift cards.
  • Flexibility considerations: To balance employee preferences with logistical considerations, companies may offer a combination of both pre-approved options and the ability for employees to request specific brands within certain parameters.

How do employee gift cards differ from traditional recognition methods?

Here is the difference between employee gift cards and traditional recognition methods.

1. Flexibility and personalization

  • Employee gift cards: One of the key differences is the flexibility and personalization offered by gift cards. Employees can use the gift card to purchase items or experiences of their choice, adding a personalized touch to the recognition.
  • Traditional recognition: Traditional methods often involve standardized rewards such as plaques, certificates, or company-branded items. While these can be meaningful, they may lack the personalization that comes with the freedom to choose.

2. Tangibility and immediate gratification

  • Employee gift cards: Gift cards provide a tangible and immediate reward. Employees can see the value of the gift card and use it whenever they please, creating a sense of instant gratification.
  • Traditional recognition: Some traditional recognition methods, like public acknowledgment or a congratulatory email, may lack the tangible element. While they are valuable, the impact might be more abstract or delayed.

3. Tailored incentives

  • Employee gift cards: Gift cards allow employers to tailor incentives to individual preferences. Whether an employee enjoys dining out, shopping, or entertainment, a gift card can cater to diverse interests.
  • Traditional recognition: Traditional methods often follow a one-size-fits-all approach. While they acknowledge accomplishments, they may not be as targeted to individual preferences.

4. Ease of distribution

  • Employee gift cards: Distributing gift cards can be a straightforward process. Employers can provide physical cards or digital codes, making it easy to implement as part of a recognition program.
  • Traditional recognition: Some traditional methods may require more planning and logistics. For example, organizing a formal ceremony or creating customized awards may take more time and effort.

5. Perceived value

  • Employee gift cards: Gift cards are often perceived as valuable because they provide employees with a tangible benefit. The ability to choose what they want adds to the perceived value of the reward.
  • Traditional recognition: While traditional methods carry intrinsic value in terms of acknowledgment and appreciation, the perceived value may vary among employees, especially if the recognition is more symbolic.

How do employers determine the value of gift cards for different recognition purposes?

The employees determine the value of gift cards for different recognition purposes.

  • Performance metrics: The value of gift cards can be linked to specific performance metrics, such as sales targets, project completion, or customer satisfaction scores.
  • Hierarchy and seniority: Employers may consider the recipient's role within the organization, with higher-ranking employees often receiving higher-value gift cards.
  • Budget constraints: The budget allocated for employee recognition programs plays a crucial role in determining gift card values, ensuring that the rewards align with the organization's financial capabilities while still providing meaningful recognition.

How do companies ensure inclusivity when selecting gift cards for a diverse workforce?

Companies ensure inclusivity when selecting gift cards from a diverse workforce.

  • Diverse options: To accommodate diverse preferences, employers may offer a wide range of gift card options, including those for popular retail stores, online platforms, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
  • Cultural sensitivity: Companies may consider the cultural backgrounds of their employees when selecting gift card options, ensuring inclusivity and avoiding inadvertently offensive choices.
  • Surveying employees: Some organizations conduct surveys or seek feedback from employees to understand their preferences better, helping tailor the available gift card options to the diverse tastes and interests within the workforce.

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.

What measures are in place to prevent misuse or fraudulent activities related to employee gift cards?

Measures in place to prevent misuse or fraudulent activities related to employee gift cards:

  • Activation controls: Employers often implement activation controls, ensuring that gift cards remain inactive until assigned to a specific employee, minimizing the risk of theft or misuse.
  • Tracking and reporting: Robust tracking systems help monitor the distribution and redemption of gift cards, enabling companies to detect any unusual patterns or discrepancies that may indicate fraudulent activities.
  • Employee education: Providing employees with guidelines on the proper use of gift cards and the consequences of misuse helps create awareness and fosters a sense of responsibility among the workforce.

How can employee gift cards contribute to a positive company culture and increased employee satisfaction?

Employee gift cards can contribute to a positive company culture and increased employee satisfaction:

  • Recognition and appreciation: Employee gift cards serve as tangible tokens of recognition, reinforcing a culture of appreciation and valuing the contributions of individuals within the organization.
  • Motivation and morale: Recognizing employees with gift cards can boost motivation and morale, creating a positive work environment where individuals feel acknowledged and incentivized to perform at their best.
  • Flexibility and choice: The flexibility of choosing one's own rewards through gift cards empowers employees, contributing to a positive company culture that respects individual preferences and fosters a sense of autonomy.

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