Why Gift Cards Make for Excellent Employee Awards


Other than giving employee benefits, particularly employer-given ones that are not mandated by the law, there are other ways for an employer to show that he or she appreciates hardworking employees. One of those is by giving employee awards, which usually come in the form of gifts. Although there are many types of gifts that employees worthy of recognition may get, there are some that are better than the rest.

Gift cards are some of the rewards that an employer may give to deserving employees. They may not be the typical gifts wrapped in eye-catching wrapping paper, but they are just as valuable. Other than that, many also appreciate them. In a 2015 survey, gift cards got the first position for the most preferred gift during the holidays. It doesn’t have to be a holiday for people to receive gift cards. Each time that employees prove worthy of recognition, they may receive gift cards as awards.

There are a couple of types of gift cards that employers may use as employee awards:

  • Open-loop gift cards.These are gift cards that the recipients can use practically anywhere to buy practically anything. You can think of them as cash, but in the form of cards that they can throw away after use. One popular example of open-loop gift cards is the Visa prepaid card.
  • Closed-loop gift cards.These are gift cards that the recipients can use only at the issuing merchants, whose names are proudly printed on the cards themselves. Sometimes they are for purchasing items, but at times they are for paying for certain experiences, such as spa treatments or hotel accommodations.

Both open-loop gift cards and closed-loop gift cards have their own set of pros and cons. When it comes to giving gift cards to employees as awards, employers may consider handing out closed-loop gift cards. They are better than their open-loop counterparts as well as cash. Keep on reading to know why they make for fantastic awards for employers.

Lasting and Memorable

Gift cards usually come in a variety of colors and designs; this is why they can double as keepsakes after use. Some recipients may even think of them as small certificates that make for wonderful additions to their wallets or scrapbooks. With gift cards, employees can have lasting reminders of their employers appreciating them.

More Polite Than Cash

Some people feel awkward when receiving money as gifts. Some of them could be your employees that you wish to award because of a job well done. Gift cards are cash parading as non-cash gifts that most employees won’t have a hard time accepting from their employers because they look more like presents than money.

Ideal for High-Earning Employees

According to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), employees getting high salaries do not appreciate cash gifts. It’s what the non-profit organization calls “mental accounting.” The reason for such is that high-earning employees see cash gifts as payment, and this causes them to spend their awards on everyday purposes instead of on special ones.


Gift cards are just some of the many awards that employers may give to their top-performing employees to commemorate their hard work. Many employers prefer to hand them, and many employees prefer to receive them.

Here’s an idea: hand out gift cards to your employees together with certificates. On the certificates, mention the reason for the recognition. Doing so can help make gift cards even more memorable and meaningful.

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