Employees have come to expect to be rewarded for a variety of professional achievements or practices, including safety and industrial hygiene. In fact, 79 percent of employees want rewards programs, and 73 percent think rewards encourage engagement, according to research1.  Yet employers face a conundrum: employees want rewards, but what kind? One size doesn’t fit all, and it can be hard to keep up with the possibilities. 

There are several popular reward tools available today that can accommodate different recipient preferences and redemption styles, including: 


Mercator research2 found that in the last couple of years, egift use has grown rapidly. Additionally, 90 percent of people who have received egifts report they are easy to redeem.3 Versatile and convenient, egifts are essentially digital versions of physical gift cards that are delivered to consumers via email. People love the speed of delivery and digital nature of egifts. They’re delivered more quickly than physical rewards; can be redeemed online, in person or on mobile devices; and many can also be incorporated into mobile wallets. As technology continues to elevate the shopping experience, egifts have become a great go-to reward option. 

Virtual prepaid

Different from egifts, virtual prepaid can be spent anywhere traditional credit card brands are accepted online — unlike an egift, which can be redeemed online or in-store, but only at a single retailer. In addition, some employers offer recipients the ability to request a physical version of the prepaid cards if preferred. Online shopping is now ubiquitous, and Forrester4 forecasts that it will only continue to grow in popularity. For that reason, virtual prepaid rewards could be a great fit for employees who prefer shopping online. 

Physical prepaid rewards

Despite the rapid adoption of digital rewards, physical cards aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, research5 by Hawk Incentives found consumers prefer prepaid cards to other options. Prepaid cards are accepted by merchants that accept the major network brands. In addition, they act as tiny billboards in people’s wallets when customized with the employer’s brand. 

Traditional payments

Despite the popularity of egift and prepaid rewards, some people may still want a physical check or other form of direct payment, such as PayPal. For some employees, holding a physical check and depositing it into their bank account provides satisfaction. However, employers should take into account that checks offer a shorter branding opportunity than other rewards; it ends when the check is deposited. 

Travel and merchandise

Rather than receiving a monetary reward, travel options and merchandise from select retailers appeal to some audiences. However, according to Mercator’s Retail Gift Card Trends in the United States research6, incentive cards may compete “with the trophy value of a vacation or big screen television.” 

Rewards can be meaningful incentives that motivate and engage employees to take desired safety and industrial hygiene measures. By familiarizing yourself with the choices available today, you’re well on your way to providing your employees with the best selection to accommodate their lifestyles and preferences. The right reward partner can help you shape the best reward strategy to meet your program goals and customer demands. Reward preferences can change by value, demographic, application and experience, so find the right partner to deliver the right reward. 


  1. The “Efficacy of Employee Rewards” research was an online survey conducted independently by Murphy Research on behalf of Hawk Incentives between Jan. 29 and Feb. 7, 2018. The sample size included 1,472 American respondents ages 18+. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5% 19 times out of 20. 
  2. The “Gift Cards are Dematerializing” research is a survey released by Mercator Advisory Group in August 2016.
  3. The “eGift Misconceptions Survey” was released by Blackhawk Network in September, 2016.
  4. “U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Forecast, 2015 to 2020” is a report published by Forrester Research in January 2016.
  5. “Reward Preference” is an online survey of 1,022 smartphone owning Americans completed by Leger for Hawk Incentives between February 10-28, 2017. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-3.07%, 19 times out of 20.
  6. The “Retail Gift Card Trends in the United States: 2015 in Review” is a survey conducted by Mercator Advisory Group in January 2016.