Blackhawk Network Study: Employee Reward Programs Are a Must for Businesses Looking to Retain Top Talent in Today’s Ultra-Competitive Hiring Environment

PLEASANTON, Calif., Oct. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Employee reward programs are a must for today’s businesses competing to retain employees. New research1 revealed successfully-executed employee reward programs deepen employee engagement and loyalty. The research also found that most employee reward program managers are satisfied with the program’s results, and that gift cards are the most popular reward in employee incentive programs aimed at increasing engagement and retention. These are key findings of new incentives research commissioned by branded payments provider Blackhawk Network that examined the latest employee reward program trends, why these programs are used, how rewards are chosen and which rewards employees prefer.

“The U.S. unemployment rate is less than four percent and businesses are operating in an employee market. Employees are being fought over as businesses clamor for the best and brightest—and they expect more from their employers. Companies looking to keep current employees happy are turning to employee reward programs,” said Theresa McEndree, vice president of marketing at Blackhawk Network. “People want to feel appreciated and valued, and businesses realize that rewarding employees goes a long way in boosting loyalty and engagement, reducing expensive turnover and encouraging employees to work harder. Our research confirms this strategy and provides insights into how to do this most effectively, including offering employees’ favorite rewards: gift cards.”

Blackhawk’s research found that the value of employee reward programs is well-known and that reward programs are must-haves for businesses competing for top talent. Of the businesses surveyed, 94 percent offer employee incentives and the majority are satisfied with them.

Other top findings from the incentives research include:

  • Employee reward programs are valuable
    Of the employee reward program managers interviewed, 79 percent agree or strongly agree that the programs are important and impact business performance. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed also feel that the programs are highly valued by employees.
  • Employee reward programs drive engagement and loyalty
    According to respondents, the main reasons employee reward programs are offered are to deepen engagement, build loyalty and show employees they are valued and appreciated. Ninety-two percent of the respondents felt rewards create employee loyalty and 95 percent felt that rewards make employees feel valued. Additionally, 89 percent of survey respondents are very satisfied or satisfied with the impact their programs have on employee engagement; 84 percent are very satisfied or satisfied with the impact on employee retention.
  • Gift card rewards are potent employee favorites
    Sixty-nine percent of employee respondents report feeling valued when receiving a gift card from their employer. They also report that gift cards feel like financial awards (69 percent), make them feel like their company cares about them (66 percent), increase their loyalty to their company (56 percent), motivate them to stay with their company (55 percent) and encourage them work harder (54 percent).
  • Rewards are selected using specific parameters
    Of the businesses surveyed, 77 percent offer reward variety. When deciding which rewards to offer, respondents reported ease of use and convenience as key drivers. Keeping these parameters in mind, businesses reported prepaid cards as the most popular go-to reward choice, followed by plastic cards and checks.
  • Personalization is a missed opportunity
    Fewer than one quarter of reward program managers surveyed use personalization options like putting their brand or brand name on a plastic or digital card—missing the opportunity to reinforce a positive employee interaction with their brand. Additionally, fewer than one in five surveyed take advantage of adding a thoughtful touch by including the recipients’ name on gift card rewards.

Blackhawk Network offers comprehensive rewards options via Hawk Incentives, including a la carte and personalized gift card ordering through At, businesses can order OmniCard Max reward cards that feature more than 160 unrelated retail brands all on the same card. Max cards can be issued the same day they are ordered, personalized with recipients’ names, branded with a company’s logo and offer the perfect blend of choice and control for employers in deciding which brands are included on the cards.

More information on OmniCard’s extensive reward offerings, click here.

About Blackhawk Network

Blackhawk Network delivers branded payment programs to meet our partners’ business objectives. We collaborate with our partners to innovate, translating market trends in branded payments to increase reach, loyalty and revenue. With a presence in over 26 countries, we reliably execute branded payment programs in over 100 countries worldwide. Join us as we shape the future of global branded payments.

Blackhawk Network is headquartered in Pleasanton, California. For more information, please visit

1 The “Blackhawk Network Incentives Study” consisted of an online survey conducted by Murphy Research on behalf of Blackhawk Network between February 4 and February 12, 2019. The sample size of 1,002 was comprised of U.S. reward program managers who have full or partial responsibility for purchasing rewards or managing incentive programs at companies that offer employee, customer or channel incentives. Industries included in the survey include health and wellness, travel, financial, retail and telecom. The “Gift Card State of the Union” study included a sample size of 3,389 respondents between the ages of 18 and 75.

Media Contact:
Geoff Renstrom

SOURCE Blackhawk Network