Marketing Director Blackhawk Network Europe
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What does the coronavirus pandemic mean for the future of digital rewards?

Since lockdown, we’ve all embraced digital transformation like never before, and the way we reward employees has changed. As day-to-day life becomes freer, we’re unlikely to go back to the way things were.  

6th Oct 2020
Marketing Director Blackhawk Network Europe
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Digital rewards have some clear advantages over their physical counterparts – for a start, they’re cheaper to create, better for the environment and less likely to be lost. For many of us, getting an e-code to redeem against a brand or experience is an ideal way to be rewarded.

In a professional landscape defined by remote working and minimal contact, offering more rewards digitally is a trend we can expect to see continue. 

For HR professionals deciding how best to spend their reward budget, it’s not always that simple, though. The promise of being able to hand over something tangible has often given physical gift cards the edge. Fast forward to life after lockdown, and that’s been turned on its head.

Digital blind spots are disappearing fast

Firstly, coronavirus restrictions have forced widespread changes to how we live. Digital interactions are now woven into countless new parts of our lives, even for those who were reluctant to embrace them before. Leisurely shopping trips, face-to-face meetings and spontaneous social visits have all transformed into a whirl of pre-ordering, online invites and fixed-time bookings.

In a recent US survey of 14,000 people by PYMNTS, 48.2% of the adult population said they embraced digital channels to interact with physical-world merchants in a way they never have, and 104 million (41.3%) more said they will stick with it.

As more people are doing more things online, digital has become the new normal for everyone and everything. We’re plugging new digital gaps every day.

rewards hub link

Digital = safe and accessible

The second major shift is that we’re assessing the safety of everything we do. Even if some people would still prefer to do some things in person, the desire to keep everyone safe while the pandemic runs its course means digital experiences are now first choice for many. The numbers of people working from home (and expected to do so for the foreseeable future) also makes it more difficult and expensive to get physical things to people safely.

A safety-first mindset plus a consensus that we need to adapt our habits has taken digital interactions from acceptable to preferable.

A bigger audience welcoming digital rewards

For anyone thinking about rewarding their employees in the coming months, understanding this shift towards digital is essential.

In a professional landscape defined by remote working and minimal contact, offering more rewards digitally is a trend we can expect to see continue. Not least because once you’ve made the switch to digital, you’re likely to keep things that way, even once day-to-day life becomes freer again.

Why? A big reason is that digital rewards are inherently versatile so can be easily tailored to reflect your objectives at the time. If you decide to reward your people digitally this Christmas, you’ll find it’s quick and easy to set up rewards for other campaigns. Seasonal celebrations and rolling programmes like recognising outstanding performance or long service are all easily achieved through flexible, digital reward platforms.

If digital is the new normal, the HR community needs to reflect that in how they reward their teams. New digital habits are being formed right now so it’s a perfect time to take a fresh look at how you earn loyalty and engagement from your people.

Interested in this topic? Read The future of employee benefits: flexible, personalised, digital.

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