A Rewarding Experience

Should you outsource your incentive program?

By Allan Britnell

Tracy Foisey handles HR for Bethesda Services, a non-profit community service organization in St. Catharines, Ont. With nearly 500 employees at the company, doling out service awards every time someone reaches a milestone—ranging from five to 40 years—would be a full-time job.

Instead, her company outsourced their rewards program to Williams Recognition, based in Sherbrooke, Que. The company has a fully automated system that emails an employee when their anniversary is coming up and directs them to an online catalogue where they can choose gifts ranging from watches and jewellery to sports gear and barbecues. “They do everything for us and make it very easy,” says Foisey.

What you get: Reward and recognition program service providers can manage awards for long-term service and sales incentives, typically for companies with 250 or more employees.

“Peer-to-peer recognition is really big right now,” says Alan Whittaker, vicepresident of sales and marketing for Williams Recognition. Many reward program providers offer clients a social media-style platform where employees can complement each other’s work, and supervisors can take note. Some systems even enable staffers to award points to their colleagues that can be used to redeem prizes.

The online portal employees use can be customized, including incorporating the company logo and colours, and a message from the president. From that, they have access to the full selection of rewards available to them.

Added bonus: “The power of the program is the power of choice,” says Douglas Garcia, vice-president of business development for Samba Rewards based in Mississauga, Ont. His company offers gift cards for more than 130 different companies, ranging from restaurant chains to iTunes and Visa cards, along with merchandise and holiday getaways.

The service providers can even handle services such as engraving and gift wrapping, and can ship the rewards directly to the employee’s home, or to the company’s head office so an executive can deliver it personally.

The bottom line: Unless you need a highly customized portal, fees are usually minimal—or even free. The service providers earn their profit by either taking a commission on gift cards and other merchandise or, in the case of a company like Williams Recognition, from selling products they manufacture themselves.

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