A good employee rewards catalog is an evergreen tool that businesses can use to motivate and retain their workforces. Offering a variety of appealing and relevant employee rewards can dramatically improve employee satisfaction and foster a more productive workplace culture, too.


Smart companies know that purposeful employee recognition is non-negotiable, which is why 90% of top-performing companies reward their sales teams with incentive programs. 

With the right strategy and the right rewards, companies of all sizes can motivate their staff, cut retention rates, and boost their productivity. In this article, we’ll explore employee rewards, what to include in a rewards catalog, and how to create and manage an effective rewards program. 

What are employee rewards?

Employee rewards are tangible or intangible perks that companies offer to their employees to recognize their hard work and achievements. The right rewards can improve job satisfaction, boost morale, and incentivize high performance. 

Examples of employee rewards include monetary bonuses, extra vacation days, public recognition, and personal development opportunities. 

Monetary rewards for employees are increasingly offered in the form of digital rewards—i.e., virtual prepaid cards from Visa and MastercardⓇ, or digital gift cards to popular brands and restaurants. These types of rewards are great for employees, because they’re flexible and can be redeemed immediately. And they’re great for businesses, because they’re cost-effective, easy to distribute, and can be personalized to suit different preferences.

Like Giftbit CCO Nat Salvione always says, “gift cards get results.”


So the old days of browsing through catalogs of branded socks and tote bags and watches that no one really wants are out. These dated types of rewards aren’t compatible with modern (and increasingly hybrid) workplaces.

In their place are digital employee rewards catalogs that are much more modern, flexible, and effective.

Gif of digital gift cardsYour employee rewards catalog: what to include

Your goal when building an employee rewards catalog should be to make it as diverse and appealing as possible. 

Because it needs to be practical and accessible, too, an online rewards catalog is going to be your best bet. 

Specifically, you’ll want to include the following three features in your award catalog. 

1. Digital gift cards

Make digital gift cards the cornerstone of your catalog, giving your employees the freedom to choose their own gifts from a variety of retailers, restaurants, and service providers. 

You might choose to offer specific gift cards for specific occasions. For example, a successful sales team might get gift cards to a favorite restaurant, so everyone can go out to celebrate a big win. Or maybe you also offer simple $5 gift cards to Starbucks for the employee of the week. 

With Giftbit, you can provide as much (or as little) choice in gift cards as you like. Give everyone the same gift card (digital Amazon gift cards are always a popular choice), let everyone pick between a few specific brands, or provide full recipient choice to hundreds of brands in the complete catalog. 

Then customize a template, include a personal note, and send your rewards via email, SMS, or through your own app or platform. This level of personalization will make the reward feel more thoughtful and meaningful.

Immediate fulfillment is also better when it comes to rewards—who wants to wait on the mail to celebrate a big win?

2. Virtual prepaid cards

Virtual prepaid cards are another versatile option for employee recognition. Give your employees a prepaid Visa, for example, and they’ll be able to use it anywhere Visa is accepted, online or in person. 

This type of reward works like a debit card. It’s loaded with a set amount of money, which employees can spend wherever they choose. This type of reward is particularly appealing because it does not limit the recipient to specific stores or brands. 

In other words, you’ll be gifting your employees ultimate flexibility.

3. Charity options

Finally, many companies like to add charity options to their employee catalogs. And according to new research from the University of Waterloo, that’s often a smart business move. 

"We found that rewarding employees with prosocial rewards, that is rewards that employees donate to charity once received, can be a win-win-win: employees win because they feel good about themselves, shareholders win because of the increased performance and reputation, and society wins because of the increased support for charity,” says associate professor Adam Presslee from the university’s School of Accounting and Finance. 

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A good culture (and other intangible employee rewards)

Some of the most valuable types of employee rewards—a pat on the back, private and public recognition for their efforts, a culture that respects their time and intelligence—simply can’t be added to a catalog or brochure. 

So while we’re focusing on how to create a modern rewards catalog, don’t forget the impact that your culture and other HR practices impact your employees as well. 

“If you’re just giving out rewards and incentives without a strong culture, that’s not going to work,” insists Giftbit CEO Leif Baradoy.  

Meanwhile, as part of your complete rewards and incentives program for employees, you may want to include a range of options, including experiential gifts, such as special events or activities, and developmental rewards, like training courses or seminars. 

That said, by centering your rewards catalog on digital gift cards, you’re creating a program that respects modern work-life dynamics and offers real value through choice and convenience. This will not only improve employee satisfaction but also streamline the administration of the program (i.e., your planning team will thank you!).

The benefits of a diverse employee reward catalog

A diverse employee rewards catalog with lots of options can significantly enhance workplace morale and productivity. 

When employees have access to a wide range of rewards, they're more likely to find something they actually want. This is particularly important in today’s multicultural and multigenerational workforces—a diverse catalog better serves a diverse workforce. 

A well-structured rewards catalog can also serve as a tool for reinforcing the values and objectives of your company. For example, if a company values wellness and work-life balance, they may want to offer rewards to spas, health and/or hobby stores, and travel options. 

Finally, many companies offer employee rewards simply because of their impact on retention rates (and therefore the bottom line). We all know how costly employee turnover can be. A rewards program that consistently meets the needs and desires of your employees can make them think twice before looking elsewhere for employment. Feeling appreciated and having their achievements recognized can foster a strong sense of loyalty to the company.

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How to choose an employee reward catalog platform

Finally, nothing will impact the success of your rewards program more than choosing the right platform and employee rewards catalog. The right software will simplify administration, improve user experience, and provide invaluable insights into program efficacy. 

Specifically, here’s what you should look for in an employee reward catalog platform:

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    • A user-friendly interface. The platform should be easy to navigate for both administrators and employees, regardless of how tech savvy they may be. 
    • A wide range of reward options. Your rewards catalog should offer a wide variety of rewards to cater to the varied preferences of a diverse workforce. 
    • Customization Capabilities. You’ll want the ability to customize rewards and your overall program, which can include choosing how you send your rewards, branding and personalizing messages attached to rewards, and tailoring the rewards program to align with specific company goals and values.
    • Scalability. Whether you’re rewarding ten employees or ten thousand, your platform should be able to grow with your company.
    • Easy Integration. Seamless integration with existing HR systems and other business management tools will make it easier to send rewards and reduce administrative overhead at the same time.
    • Analytics and Reporting. Look for detailed analytics and reporting capabilities that will help you track the usage and impact of the rewards program.
    • Reliable Customer Support. This ensures that any issues can be addressed quickly and efficiently, minimizing downtime and frustration. 

Ultimately, developing an effective incentive program starts with choosing the right incentive and rewards platform. Look for one with a robust rewards catalog and strong customer support. 

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How to create (and manage) an effective employee incentive program

Like any business strategy worth pursuing, developing a successful employee rewards program requires careful planning and execution. 

Bookmark this step-by-step guide to create an incentive program that not only motivates employees but is also cost-effective and easy to administer.

Questions about how to set up an employee incentive program? Chat with our friendly sales team to get answers!

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Step 1: Define the Objectives of Your Reward Program

Every professional worth their salt knows the importance of setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before setting off on any new project. The same is true when developing a rewards program. 

Start by clearly defining what you’re trying to achieve with your employee rewards program, and how you’ll measure that. 

Pro-tip: Including your employees in this process can increase buy-in and make your program better. 


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Step 2: Establish a Budget 

A well-defined and carefully planned budget will ensure that your program is sustainable over the long term.

So next up, you’ll need to determine how much your company will be investing in the rewards program. Remember to include not only the costs of the rewards themselves, but also any associated expenses for managing the program (yet another reason to choose digital rewards to keep overhead and administrative costs low!). 

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Step 3: Choose the right rewards for your employee catalog

Think about what you want to include in your employee catalog, focusing on how your options will reflect on your company, and how they’ll impact the success of your program. 

Specifically, you’ll want to choose rewards and brands that align your employees’ preferences and your company’s values. You’ll likely also want to include versatile rewards that appeal to a broad audience. 

If you choose to use a platform like Giftbit, then you’ll automatically be able to offer your employees a catalog that includes gift cards to hundreds of the most popular brands like Amazon and Starbucks, along with specialty brands and modern consumer faves like Apple, Google Play, Nike, and Xbox. 

You can also offer virtual prepaid cards to Visa and Mastercard, so that your employees can choose exactly how they’d like to spend their money. 

You’ll also have the option to give your employees donation gift cards. 

Pro-tip: Virtual prepaid cards can be a good option to reward employees who would like to shop local.   


Step 4: Integrate your rewards with existing workflow

Don’t make your rewards program an extra burden for your HR department. 

Instead, leverage Giftbit’s free API or simple Zapier integrations to integrate your digital rewards process seamlessly into your existing HR systems. 

These options will allow for automated reward distribution, which can be triggered by specific actions or achievements. This level of automation will make the process efficient and scalable. 

Of course, you also have the option to use the Giftbit web-based platform, which also provides complete access to our catalog, sending capabilities, and features. 

Giftbit also offers rewards tracking, so you can monitor your program and your employees’ preferences.

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Step 5: Communicate clearly 

Clear communication is crucial for engagement and participation—your program will only motivate your employees if they know about it. So ensure that everyone understands how your rewards program works and what they need to do to earn rewards. 

Meanwhile, regular updates about new rewards options, success stories, and program enhancements will keep the program fresh and top of mind.

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Step 6: Monitor and adapt

You’ll also want to actually use all that rich data you’re gathering to review your program. Continuously monitor your participation rates, employee feedback, and the actual impact on company goals and KPIs you’ve established. 

Then be prepared to iterate or make adjustments as needed.

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Step 7: Celebrate Success

Finally, make a point to celebrate the success of your rewards program and the employees who have benefited from it. Highlighting these successes can boost morale and encourage continued engagement from your team.

Giftbit offers the functionality, customization, and scalability necessary to offer fantastic employee rewards and create a top-notch employee rewards program. Watch a quick demo now to see how easy it can be to start rewarding your team.