Experiential perks: A new dimension to employee rewards for financial services

By Sarah Whitman, SVP, e-Commerce at Workhuman


Despite tough economic times, voluntary resignations in the UK rose by 62% last year, posing a retention challenge for sectors like the finance industry. Employees aren’t solely driven by salary and are increasingly looking for non-monetary incentives, such as flexible hours and a positive culture, as well as better workplace perks.

More and more, finance leaders are adopting strategies in a bid to retain talent – and one of the most effective, but often underutilised, tools is employee recognition and reward.

It’s no secret that employees who feel appreciated are more likely to stay with their current employers. In fact, studies show that when employees receive adequate recognition at work, they are 37% less likely to be actively seeking job opportunities elsewhere. Essentially, recognition fosters a sense of belonging and appreciation in today’s competitive job market, and many financial services firms stand to benefit from implementing it.

Recognition as a way to retain talent

The financial turbulence in recent years has led to an increase in burnout – and burnt out employees are more than twice as likely to look elsewhere for a job. However, when they are regularly appreciated, employees are less likely to be burnt out – and less likely to leave. Notably, employees who receive recognition only a few times a year or less are 74% more likely to say they do not plan to be at their organisation in one year. This highlights just how vital recognition really is. Yet, 82% of workers say their supervisors don’t recognise them enough for their contributions, according to Harvard Business Review.

There are numerous ways organisations can recognise their employees, from a simple email ‘thanks’ to formal recognition programmes. However, on its own, e-thanks is not enough to drive job satisfaction and engagement. As Gartner notes: “To maximise initial and ongoing interest with recognition practices and platforms, it’s recommended to tie recognition to some form of tangible reward.” Rewards backed with tangible value are 20% more effective than e-thanks alone in reducing turnover.

Experiential rewards – the trend of the future

When it comes to rewards, businesses are finding it necessary to explore creative approaches to benefits packages in order to attract and retain employees. Traditionally, organisations with employee recognition and reward programmes offer a number of reward options, such as electronics, merchandise, and more through reward stores. The ‘recognition points’ which are earned each time an employee is recognised can be redeemed for tangible rewards from a catalogue of these items.

In the wake of the pandemic, people’s desire to make memories and enjoy experiences – like travel, adventures, tours, and activities – has intensified. As a result, experiential rewards are taking centre stage. These enable employees to experience adventures and explore activities that create memories that hold value years on – fostering not only personal growth but also deeper connections with their organisation.

Organisations are responding to this shift in people’s behaviour by taking a new approach to employee rewards. Workhuman, for example, has an incredible Store filled with merchandise, gift cards, charities, and has just introduced ‘Experiences,’ enabling employees to use their reward points for in-store booking of experiences and travel. Employees across the globe now have access to hundreds of thousands of activities, travel and accommodation options ranging from walking tours and snorkelling with turtles, to private yacht rentals. Activities, hotels, car rentals, and flights can all be arranged, keeping an employee’s entire travel itinerary in one place and helping them avoid the hassle of multiple travel partners.

The bottom line for financial servicesAs the talent gap widens, financial services organisations must find new ways to hold on to their top employees. Salary increases and monetary incentives alone aren’t always enough, particularly when industry competitors can match or exceed salary offers.

The integration of recognition and rewards has emerged as a potent strategy for attracting and retaining talent, and offering employees a personalised choice when it comes to rewards is another way to ensure recognition hits the mark and makes the most impact.

Given that Gallup research shows an organisation of 10,000 people can save up to $16M (£13M) annually in employee turnover costs when they make recognition an important part of their culture, it’s clear that employee recognition and reward is well worth the investment.


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