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How to leverage gift cards to reward and recognize international employees

How to leverage gift cards to reward and recognize international employees

Within the business world, the gift card economy has been booming. A recent study from the  Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) showed that:

  • 52% of US businesses use gift cards,
  • Those businesses spend $22.7 billion a year in the category, and
  • 60% of firms utilizing gift cards say their employees are the recipients

And it’s not just management that thinks gift cards are a good idea – 44% of employees  say they prefer gift cards  over cash when it comes to rewards. A gift card can seem more personal and meaningful, while cash tends to been as a generic bonus. 

Companies not utilizing the strategy of implementing personal employee recognition and rewards risk losing talent to their competitors. This can be even more important when it comes to distributed teams working with international team members.

How can rewards like gift cards be used to promote team cohesion, increase employee retention, and improve performance? First, let’s look at a few possible ways to recognize worker’s efforts.

Ways to Recognize Employees

Why is employee recognition important?

Research indicates that employee recognition programs can reduce voluntary turnover rates to the tune of 31%. In addition, over two-thirds of employees planning to quit their jobs would stay if they received recognition and rewards.

Combine this with the fact cited earlier about employees preferring gift cards, and it becomes clear how organizations can benefit from gift card-based rewards programs. When team members feel their hard work has been recognized and rewarded in ways they desire, they’re less likely to leave.

What are some ways this can be put into practice? Common forms of employee recognition include:

  • Achievement-based recognition. Hitting a sales goal, onboarding a number of new clients, or reaching an operations-related milestone could warrant recognition.
  • Workplace anniversaries. Spending 10 years with an organization is a noteworthy achievement.
  • Behavior-based recognition. Has a certain employee been consistently putting in overtime? If so, they’re likely to appreciate being acknowledged for that feat.
  • Peer-to-peer support. While management often offers praise, being encouraged by other team members for stellar performance can have a beneficial impact as well.
  • Anonymous rewards. When a worker has earned a reward, sometimes receiving it from an anonymous source can make it seem even more important. This removes the potential for the person giving the reward being motivated by wanting to seem like a team player themselves.

Overall, employees tend to prefer being recognized and rewarded for their performance, the value they bring to the organization, and their efforts toward teamwork and collaboration. Keep this in mind when coming up with answers to the question “why is employee recognition important.”

How Gift Cards Can Serve International Employees

In an office building, presenting employees with a physical gift card is easy. But what happens when team members reside in different countries? This introduces several notable challenges.

Currency differences

Currency conversion rates and international fees can alter the value of an existing gift card. It’s important to double check the current foreign exchange rates for the currency of the recipient versus the currency of the buyer.

Fees & Restrictions

International gift cards could come with certain restrictions or fees imposed by the card issuers, such as expiration dates or restrictions on how the card can be used for online purchases.

Which Gift Cards Can Be Used Internationally?

Of course, when planning to send an international employee a gift card, it’s necessary to first determine what gift cards can be used internationally.

Many prepaid cards can be used internationally. However, this isn’t always the case. Check the protective clauses listed by the prepaid card company in question.

As for company-specific gift cards, many of these can only be spent within the United States. A few examples include:

  • American Express – American Express gift cards can only be spent in the US.
  • Best Buy – Best Buy gift cards can only be used to make purchases in the US, both online and in stores.
  • Home Depot – Home Depot gift cards are often accepted in stores and online in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
  • Visa and Mastarcard – Prepaid gift cards by two of the most globally recognized credit card brands can often be spent internationally. Check to make sure the card is approved for international use.
  • Amazon – Amazon has different domain names for its website in each country. For example, Australian shoppers will need a gift card bought through, as an gift card won’t be accepted.

Other gift cards that can only be used inside the US include Wal-Mart, iTunes, and Whole Foods.

What to Keep in Mind When Gifting Internationally

Gift cards have been shown to be an effective way at showing appreciation for team member’s efforts. Regardless of the type of employee recognition program in place, a gift card can be the perfect reward.

Always be sure to check that the gift card in question will be accepted outside the US. Many company-specific cards do not qualify, so pre-paid cards will often be the only option.

Keep in mind the foreign exchange rates of your employee’s national currency. Gifting an amount less than intended could have negative implications for obvious reasons.

Overall, sending a gift card to an international employee just requires keeping a few key things in mind, and when done correctly can be an optimal way to distribute rewards. Ready to reward your employees? Learn more about the Runa platform and request a demo.