5 Myths and Misconceptions About Corporate Rewards Programs

5 Myths and Misconceptions About Corporate Rewards Programs

Building a corporate rewards program—myth-busted! Launching an employee engagement strategy doesn’t need to be spooky. Here's why.

5 Myths and Misconceptions About Corporate Rewards Programs

With CHROs and people teams prioritizing employee engagement strategies, we thought we’d dispel of some common misconceptions about corporate rewards programs and discuss why they're actually a pretty worthwhile investment.

At Cooleaf, we're always looking at new ways to engage employees in every industry. Whether it’s healthcare workers, a remote IT team, or contractors on a job site, we constantly hear that connection, recognition, and employee happiness are priorities. But we also hear a lot of hesitation when we say that the best approach to engagement is a holistic reward system.

See Cooleaf in action

Launching an employee engagement strategy doesn’t need to be spooky. Here are some of the most common myths we hear about corporate rewards programs and why those myths may be further from the truth than you think.

Myth 1: Rewards programs are costly

While building an employee engagement program is an investment, it’s a common myth that successful rewards programs are expensive. With our experience at Cooleaf, we know that teams can build a cost effective rewards program by working smarter, together.

This means working with your managers and executive team to encourage employee recognitions or planning out activities and events to engage your people. It’s surveying your people to see what matters most.

“People have different expectations for work than they did previously,” Whitney Bennett, Senior Vice President of People and Culture at CallRail, said during an episode of The Great Retention podcast.

“They want their companies to be involved in causes they care about. They also want their work to be meaningful, so there’s a lot of work [CallRail] has done to tie that meaning together.”

When you think corporate rewards, go beyond the traditional years of service award or end of year bonus— though those are great employee rewards that should be included in your rewards program.

New call-to-action

Follow CallRail’s example. After discovering that their people were passionate about service and community involvement, CallRail launched ERGs and offer several volunteer partnerships in a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.

You also don’t need to have high upfront costs to launch something great. On Cooleaf, employees receive points for recognitions or participation in events, activities, or pulse surveys, and those points accrue over time, so people can redeem them for digital gift cards, high end merchandise, or even monetary donations to their favorite non-profit.

A smarter strategy helps you invest your time, energy, and budget where it can be the most effective. Plus investing in your employees saves costs down the line too. Consider the price of employee turnover (6-9 months of that employee’s salary). Think about how employee engagement increases innovation and trickles down to positive customer experience. Look at how small, automatic incentives can positively impact your bottomline.

Myth 2: Having one piece of a program will solve your employee engagement needs

Employee engagement isn’t hosting a happy hour every month. It isn’t just having a recognition channel on your company Slack or Teams accounts. Strong work culture develops when your team thinks holistically.

This means nurturing strong supportive culture, regular public recognition from peers and managers, connection with employees through online challenges and surveys, creating a sense of belonging with DEI initiatives, and making your company core values come to life in what you do.

“With engagement strategies, it’s around what employees want,” said Whitney from CallRail. “You need to ask them. You need to survey them. You need to see what they want, and then come back with a plan to show them this is how we’re going to provide that to you.”

CallRail’s employee survey surfaced an opportunity for them to support their employees’ concern over food waste and desire for more community involvement. Now, CallRail has several ERGs, hosts volunteer days throughout the year, and donates remaining food from office-wide lunches to a local non-profit.

CSR, DEI, and sustainability are different branches of employee engagement. They offer different touch points for your people to feel that sense of purpose, belonging, and support from your company’s leadership.

Myth 3: “We tried it for a month and it didn’t take. It’s not for us.”

Inventor Thomas Edison says it took him 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before he created the first lightbulb. When a reporter called it the inventor’s “thousand failures,” Edison replied, “I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

At Cooleaf we often hear from workplace leaders who have tried an employee engagement initiative or a recognition program and after a month or a few events they inevitably give up because “It’s not for us” or “our people aren’t interested in it.”

A successful corporate rewards program isn’t a one-size-fits all. Like Edison, business owners and leadership need to iterate and learn after each attempt. Instead of giving up, ask yourself why was engagement low? What are our people responding to? How can we get managers to set the tone?

When asked what their biggest takeaway moving forward with their thriving employee engagement strategy, Whitney of CallRail said this:

“Bringing intentionality and transparency into what we do. We’re going to create the environment and put the resources in. We’re going to foster collaboration and innovation in a way that’s meaningful,” she said. “We’re telling people the why and asking people what they think. It’s like an engineer. Hypothesis. Test. Results. Test again and then change it up.”

Myth 4: You can’t track success for employee rewards

We know that corporate rewards and employee incentives are an effective way (and perk!) to motivate your people, but we constantly hear from HR managers, employee culture leaders, and CHROs that they need to tangible KPIs to bring to the table. So can we show how effective that wellness program was? Can you back why time-consuming planning or budget was needed for that HR spirit week?

Yes, you can measure ROI for your employee experience. And with providers like Cooleaf, you can issue and track employee sentiment through pulse surveys and manager dashboards. You can also work with a Cooleaf Customer Success Manager to benchmark employee engagement each quarter.

So in the same way that any organization can track the effectiveness of a customer loyalty program, you can do the same for your employee corporate rewards programs. You can even use some of the similar metrics, such as employee advocacy or referrals, employee instead of customer retention rates, and employee net promoter scores (eNPS) to track success.

We’ve also seen a correlation that investing in your people can even increase your bottom line. Software development company SOLTECH saw a considerable increase in business since they dedicate efforts to their employee experience:

“Turnover has been significantly lower the past 5 years,” Veanne Smith, Co-CEO, SOLTECH. “When people feel appreciated, their overall quality of life is improved, resulting in better service to our clients and stronger financial performance for SOLTECH.”

Myth 5: Employee engagement is a nice to have, not a must

The workplace isn’t changing. The workplace changed. The 2020 Pandemic highlighted people’s desire for more out of their roles or company. We see it in the growing desire for purpose driven work, healthier work-life balance, and quiet quitting. We even see it in how organizations are looking to grow DEI  or CSR programs.

Work needs to mean more to the individual and companies are following suit.

“As our eNPS (employee net promoter score) has gone up, so has our revenue. It's not coincidental,” Veanne of SOLTECH said. “You can’t grow your business if you don’t invest in your employees."

A single type of corporate rewards like work anniversary isn’t enough anymore. While significant, this type of recognition happens once a year and doesn’t have meaningful specificity. How are you making that employee feel appreciated during the remaining 364 days?

Offer different rewards, seek other ways to connect your employees, and listen to your employees’ feedback on what matters most to them.

Don’t be afraid to get started!

Trying something new can be scary, but building out a corporate rewards program doesn’t have to be. Cooleaf is here to help you build out your employee engagement strategy with the right incentives and different rewards that you'r people will love.

Take your employee engagement to the next level with Cooleaf's innovative platform! Don't settle for the status quo – empower your team with tools that inspire, recognize, and connect. Revolutionize your workplace culture and watch productivity soar.

Ready to transform your organization?

Book a Cooleaf Demo


Insights in an instant

Get more tips on creating exceptional employee experiences with our industry newsletter. You'll receive our weekly newsletter, along with occasional event invites for upcoming webinars.

We will never share your email address with third parties.