Including employee rewards and recognition in your HR strategy can help boost employee morale, increase engagement, and promote a positive work culture. Many HR professionals and people managers enhance their employee reward programs by including experiential rewards that are fun and flexible.
What are experiential rewards? They’re experiences or activities that people can enjoy alone, with their coworkers, or with family and friends. These experiences can be as simple as taking a cooking lesson or as extravagant as a week-long cruise. When you offer experiential rewards, you’re demonstrating that you care about your employees, you value thoughtful rewards, and you’re interested in their interests outside of the workplace.
Experiential rewards offer flexibility and personalization, help employees create positive memories, and empower employees to include loved ones or team members. Here are a few examples of how Tango and Bucketlist use experiential rewards to reward, recognize, and support employees.
Experiential rewards help employees tie positive memories to their employers. They also give employees the freedom, encouragement, and flexibility to take part in experiences they otherwise wouldn't. With experiential rewards, employers have an opportunity to leave a lasting impression by offering employees something they truly want.
Like many companies, Tango’s annual holiday party was canceled in 2021 because of COVID-19. To recognize employees more safely, Tango’s leadership team sent each Tango employee a $500 Reward Link. Jackie knew she wanted to spend hers on something special—something she wouldn’t normally do.
I ended up spending my $500 Reward Link on an Airbnb gift card, which I used to plan a trip to Mexico. My husband and I decided to take a road trip with friends through the Baja California peninsula. We started in El Pescadero and made our way to Todos Santos and La Paz. It was such a cool adventure, with some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. I’m really grateful for the experience!
One Bucketlist user, Pamela, redeemed her Bucketlist points for a flight lesson over Detroit. She’d always wanted to take a flight lesson and would talk about it frequently, but she just didn’t know where to start or how to go about fulfilling this dream of hers.
Having a recognition program that lays it all out for you makes it so easy. I didn’t know how to go about learning to fly a plane, so when I saw the option to be able to redeem my recognition points for a flight lesson, I thought, “this is my opportunity…” And it was as easy as one simple click. The experience in itself was just amazing and definitely fulfilled a bucket list item of mine. It was very thrilling to do and much more than I expected that it was going to be.
The ability to involve family and friends in any employee reward is a special experience. 40% of employees prefer family-related benefits and perks, and 25% of employees say they would like to share their rewards with friends and family.
Beka used her Bucketlist Benefit to try the infamous seafood pizza from Steveston Pizza Company—an item that’s been on her bucket list for many years. This pizza was luxuriously loaded with:
🦐 Lobster Tails
🍕 Smoked Salmon
What made this experience extra special for me was being able to share it with my family. Growing up, my immigrant parents worked very hard and spent every possible dollar on me and my brother’s education and extracurriculars, and very little on themselves. Now, I cherish every opportunity to spoil them and take them on adventures to try new things.
Many of our employees like to involve loved ones in their reward redemption and experiential rewards. Last year, Lindsay used one of her Reward Links to purchase a National Parks Lands Pass and her daughter’s first bike and hiking pack from REI.
One of our favorite things to do as a family is visit National Parks and go hiking and biking. It was great to be able to share my Reward Link with my family—my daughter is so excited that she can now join in on our adventures. In 2022 we visited Red Rocks, Zion, Death Valley, Saguaro, Rocky Mountain, and Olympic National Parks. It's safe to say she is a happy hiker.
The days of rewarding your employees with company swag are over—recipients don’t want another branded water bottle or tote bag. People appreciate personalized rewards that allow them to choose something that’s meaningful to them. Not only are flexible, personalized rewards preferred, they’re also effective in connecting distributed workplaces and increasing engagement.
Along with peer-to-peer rewards, holiday rewards, and work-from-home stipends, Tango has also implemented a spot bonus* program. Last year, Ellen used a spot bonus to go all out on her vacation to Scotland and Ireland.
I redeemed my Reward Link for a prepaid card, which I used to book a few tours around Scotland and Ireland. I already had the three-week trip planned, but this reward allowed me to splurge on a few experiences I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. With my reward I was able to see Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle, the Wicklow mountains, and the Cliffs of Moher. It was an unforgettable experience and I’m so grateful Tango made my dream vacation possible!
*Spot bonuses are one-time, on-the-spot rewards given to employees for exceptional work. The goal is to show employees that their work is noticed and appreciated at that very moment.
Marlisa used her Bucketlist Benefit to do a baby sea turtle release—something that's been on her bucket list for many years. During her trip to Mexico with her partner, Zed, they had a Marine Biologist come and facilitate the release for just the two of them. They were able to release 32 baby sea turtles! The experience ended with a huge surprise, as her partner got down on one knee and proposed right after they released the turtles—a memory the two of them will never forget!
Experiential rewards aren’t limited to individual employees. You can treat your entire team! Low-cost reward for team can help employees build relationships within the company, create a culture of shared experiences, and strengthen bonds.
Last October, the Tango marketing team had their first in-person retreat in Seattle, WA. During this week-long meeting, the team scheduled time to enjoy a shared experience and give back to the community.
We really wanted to spend sometime volunteering together during our trip to Seattle and one of our employees suggested WestSide Baby. Their mission is to provide essential items to keep children safe, warm and dry by collecting and distributing diapers, clothing, and equipment throughout West Seattle. Our team members helped sort diapers, pack orders, and organize clothing items. It was an incredible experience that allowed our team to get to know each other better and feel more connected!
—Jared, VP of Marketing
Experiential rewards can empower you to recognize and support your employees in a way that fosters their mental health, supports their interests, and encourages them to take time for themselves. In turn, these experiences will help you increase engagement, improve retention, and foster loyalty.
Download our latest white paper, Elevate and personalize your employee experience with experiential rewards, to learn more about experiential rewards and how you can get started today.