Benefits and Compensation

Top 5 Non-Cash Incentive Trends to Watch in 2023

Non-cash incentives are playing an important role in today’s employee attraction and retention strategies. The Great Resignation has started an important conversation, and workers have shown through their actions that they want to be seen as more than a cog in the machine. Employees are looking for more than a standard salary and benefits from their employers. Non-cash incentives, like digital gift cards, can go a long way toward recognizing and appreciating employees, which, in turn, can help cultivate loyalty and productivity.

Here are the top five non-cash incentive trends to watch in 2023:

1. Non-Cash Incentives Are Crucial

Businesses rely on non-cash incentives to show gratitude to employees, but they can also be used to support workers struggling with inflation, giving them a way to relieve the sting of increasing costs for groceries, gas, and other necessities. Gift cards covering these necessities are especially popular as a solution, as they offer employees a chance to stretch their dollars. These gifts give employees a chance to move beyond monthly essentials and spend their hard-earned money on self-care or leisure items.

2. Increase in Average Spend per Employee

Employers realize the power of non-cash incentives and have started to focus more on them. The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) released its Industry Outlook for 2023: Merchandise, Gift Cards and Event Gifting study, which showed the average corporate spend per person for non-cash incentives increased to $1,060 in 2022—up from $806 in 2021. This is expected to continue to rise as employers lean into non-cash incentives as a benefit.

3. Moving Away From Local Gift Card Sourcing

The IRF survey also showed that 74% of corporate respondents sourced their gift cards for non-cash incentives from local retail stores. This is incredibly high when you consider the time involved for someone to go out and shop for the cards, as well as distribute cards to employees—particularly remote employees. This isn’t an efficient way to provide non-cash incentives and indicates the need to streamline. There’s an opportunity to use a digital solution for a wider selection of gift card options. Digital sourcing provides security, convenience, and variety for both companies and employees.

4. Greater Focus On Experiential Rewards

Companies have increased their use of experiential rewards, such as travel and entertainment, to motivate employees. This reflects a growing emphasis on work/life balance and a hunger for unique, memorable experiences. Gift cards that include a selection of experiential rewards allow employees to use their rewards on something that will bring them joy.

5. Customization and Personalization of Incentives

In 2023, we can expect to see more customizable and personalized non-cash incentives. Rather than outdated rewards that could elicit a neutral or even negative response, this approach acknowledges the desire for more meaningful and individualized rewards that truly resonate with employees. For example, if a remote employee is sent a gift card for a store that’s not local to that employee, it could elicit a negative reaction because the employee isn’t able to use it. Another example is if the employee is gifted two movie tickets but needs to hire a sitter or purchase more tickets to bring the whole family. It could feel like an obligation to spend more money to use the incentive, causing frustration. A gift card solution that allows employees to select what they want is a better path and permits recipients to get individualized value out of their rewards.

Non-Cash Incentives Are Trending

As companies recognize the benefits of non-cash incentives and begin to invest more per employee to attract and retain talent, the need for forward-thinking solutions in personalization and convenience will grow. Employees will feel appreciated when the “thank you” they receive can be customized to their needs and be used for everyday items such as food or gas or for experiential rewards such as dining out, travel, or entertainment. Non-cash incentives will continue to grow in use, and companies will look for innovative ways, including digital sourcing, to incorporate them into their rewards structure.

David Leeds is the CEO of Tango.

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