Ask anyone in HR and they will tell you how crucial employee engagement is for motivation, performance and retention. As part of an organisation’s wider strategic imperative, however, engagement is rarely seen as a meaningful tactic to drive tangible business results.

This is because for many organisations, “engagement” is about having a tick list of policies and a set of expectations that results will follow as a matter of course. Any positive outcome is considered an almost incidental boost to motivation and productivity.

In reality, when correctly implemented and supported by both HR and team leaders to deliver their full potential, these strategies can achieve so much more.

Leading the way

A reward scheme can be very effective as a tool for engagement – but it won’t run itself, regardless of the fanfare supporting its launch. HR needs to encourage the department heads and team managers to buy into the scheme, drive it and engage with colleagues consistently throughout.

Evaluation and adjustment of the scheme on an ongoing basis helps to stay on track. Applying SMART objectives is one of the single best ways to review any programme designed to drive performance, with clear communication from managers before, during and after the incentive period.

Employee feedback on what they feel is and isn’t working should be incorporated and changes made accordingly. Equally, positive performance feedback should be given within the clear parameters of the reward scheme. This in turn drives self-esteem, employee satisfaction and a direction in their work, which are all linked to performance improvement.

Making engagement pay for itself

At a time of economic challenges, budget restrictions and pay freezes, well designed and thought out reward schemes can provide a welcome compromise for your employees. However, this also means that they must deliver maximum ROI for your business.

A successful engagement strategy will have the biggest impact if it is aligned to people’s core roles and competencies in order to drive performance and encourage efficient behaviours, regardless of department or discipline.

In terms of budget allocation, any scheme linked to sales performance, whether that be tactical or as part of a longer-term reward programme, needs to be in proportion to the results it is aiming to achieve in order to deliver real change for the business.

21st Century reward

It’s a no-brainer: the more individual and relevant the reward, the more effective it will be. Take into account as many personal characteristics as is reasonable, e.g. cultural and religious beliefs, age and interests and above all, provide choice. Multi-retail vouchers and prepaid cards allow the recipient to choose where and how they use their reward, which feels like a sincerer gesture.

For the managers of the scheme, simplicity is key. They want control of the process at their fingertips, with real-time visibility and reporting. A self-service incentive management application that allows the distribution of rewards within a personalised and branded email template is ideal for this – administration and cost is kept to a minimum through the scheme’s ease of use and the recipient benefits from being able to choose from a wide range of rewards to suit their own personal needs.

This will ensure that the reward is not only relevant but also cost-effective and delivers against overall business objectives. What’s more, a seriously engaged employee will have a positive impact on customer engagement, making your engagement strategy work even harder. Motivation AND more sales – it’s a win/win situation.

Andy Philpott is Sales and Marketing Director for Edenred UK. You can find more tips and insight around the role of benefits in supporting employee performance at



Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.