New research from American Express® has found small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) gift almost £1,000 (£910) of rewards earnt on spending across charge, credit and loyalty cards to employees each year. Rewards can range from flights to hotel and shopping vouchers*. Smaller businesses based in Manchester are the most generous with rewards totalling £1,156 over the course of 12 months – while those North of the border in Edinburgh gift the least, at just £686.

For those employees who are lucky enough to have received a reward, almost half (46 per cent) said it made them feel truly valued, over two in five (44 per cent) believe their company was rewarding their hard work and dedication, while 33% felt motivated to work harder. The impacts are also felt by the employer, with improved motivation and employee performance being identified.

Jose Carvalho, Senior Vice-President at American Express said:

It’s encouraging to see so many SMEs recognising the benefits of gifting rewards, including those accrued through spending on their charge and credit cards – our research has found that (94 per cent) of employees say they would be more like to stay with a company if it regularly rewarded staff members. With rewards available to accrue across loyalty cards to small business charge cards, they represent a valuable way of enabling business owners to earn rewards on spend which they can then use for employee recognition”.

The research went on to identify how the types of rewards being gifted vary, as on average half of employers offer cash bonuses, 46 per cent offer high street vouchers and 40 per cent share restaurant vouchers. Yet cash is not king across the whole of UK, with food and drink vouchers proving the most popular with SMEs in Cardiff (52 per cent) and Leeds (47 per cent).

To help SMEs make the most of the opportunities for accruing and gifting rewards, American Express has put together top tips for employers:  

  • Don’t overlook teamwork – while rewarding an individual is common practice across most organisations it’s important not to underplay the role of teamwork. Don’t forget to encourage employees to reach team goals and recognise these achievements or successes.
  • Employee input – listening to your employees is essential and often overlooked. Speak to them to understand if there is a certain staff member who has gone above and beyond their job role and deserve the reward the most.
  • Seek advice – if you’re unsure about how best to share these rewards with your employees, and any potential cost implications, speak to your finance team or accountant who can give you the advice and guidance you need
  • Maximise the benefits from your business spend – using a business charge card that earn rewards, such as the American Express Gold Business Card**, means you can accrue rewards from your business spending, which in turn can be gifted to employees.
  • Opportunities to grow – when looking how best to utilise the rewards you have accrued, don’t overlook how you can use these to help develop the business. You could put air miles or hotel vouchers towards sending employees on business trips or training courses, which will help keep costs in check.