covid-19 reward

Guide: How to get reward right during COVID-19

covid-19 reward
After such a difficult and uncertain time for everyone, and as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, managers and leaders everywhere will be wondering how to best reward their teams.

It’s not as simple as you might think and taking a more targeted and specific approach to reward at this time is without doubt the best way. Leaders everywhere have a brilliant opportunity to show their appreciation for their team as employees everywhere have maintained patience and work ethic through an incredibly uncertain time.

So, we thought we’d put together this guide to help leaders make the most of a time where reward is crucial to get right. How you reward your team right now could set the tone for the future and could shape perceptions of your business in the eyes of your staff. Want your staff to look back on this time and remember how well they were rewarded? Take a further look into this guide to getting reward right during COVID-19.


  • Rewarding furloughed vs. non-furloughed staff
  • Financial vs. non-financial rewards
  • Using rewards to support staff where they need it most
  • How Flexible Benefits can help individualise and personalise reward
  • How to reward a remote workforce


For more like this, take a look at our Complete Guide to Reward and Recognition.


covid-19 reward

Rewarding Furloughed vs. Non-Furloughed Staff

One of the trickiest aspects of reward is rewarding fairly. Even with the current situation aside, staff want to feel they’re rewarded fairly compared to their colleagues. With this in mind, you might need to consider how rewarding non-furloughed staff may be received by furloughed staff.

That said, should furloughed staff be rewarded? Whether furloughed or not, it’s been a difficult time for everyone. Certainly, those placed on the Job Retention Scheme should receive a welcome back to the business that recognises and thanks them for their loyalty and patience during such a difficult and uncertain period.

Every organisation’s situation is different and thus requires a different approach. However, neither rewarding only non-furloughed staff, nor rewarding all staff the same are the correct approaches.

As mentioned, a more specific and targeted approach to reward is needed. But first, it’s important to recognise all staff for the role they’ve played even if they have been placed on the Job Retention Scheme, as patience and loyalty should never be undervalued.

So, when considering how to reward your team, remember to consider both furloughed and non-furloughed workers. So, how do we reward furloughed staff compared to non-furloughed staff? This is where financial and non-financial rewards come in and how tailoring rewards to your employees’ specific situation can help make the way you reward your staff the most effective right now.


Financial vs. Non-Financial Rewards

When it comes to financial and non-financial rewards and how to use them at this time, there are a few things to consider.

BLOG: The 12 best non-monetary rewards that will motivate your employees

covid-19 reward

Immediate vs. Long-term impact

The first thing to consider is the impact of financial rewards compared to non-financial rewards. For example, a monetary bonus as a reward might not hit the employees’ account until the next time they are paid, and so the time between receiving the reward and actually benefitting from it can soften its impact. Alternatively, if you reward an employee with a longer lunch break or an early finish, it makes an immediate impact and can be used on the same day.

Some financial rewards can however make a more immediate impact, while some non-financial rewards do have a more long-term benefit. For example, you might reward an employee by offering to cover tuition cost, which is great news for an employee however the benefits of pursuing education won’t be gained until it is complete, so it’s worth bearing this in mind too in terms of its impact.


What about non-monetary rewards that have a monetary value?

It’s also important to consider how value is perceived when it comes to rewards. For example, rewarding someone with an extra day of annual leave may actually have more perceived monetary value than a gift card of a certain value for example. So, while one may be classed as a non-monetary reward where there isn’t a direct monetary value attributed to the reward, the most important thing to consider is how the value of that reward is perceived.

This is particularly important if you run a Holiday Trading scheme, where staff can purchase extra annual leave, as there’s a monetary value attached to annual leave in the form of how much it would cost an employee to purchase an extra day’s annual leave through the scheme.

This adds yet another layer of complexity to financial vs. non-financial rewards but it is important to consider and even more important to get it right.


Reward on an individual basis

Another thing to consider is how each individual staff member has been hit by the effects of COVID-19. Financial rewards will be better received by some than others and this is often the case with financial rewards even with the current situation aside. However, the difference in this case is likely to be higher. The difference between those who have been hit financially by the crisis and those who haven’t is likely to be higher and therefore it’s more important than ever to get your financial and non-financial rewards right.


covid-19 reward

Using rewards to support staff where they need it most

Rewarding staff at this time is not only an opportunity to make them feel good and feel rewarded for their hard work, but it’s an opportunity to help them with the difficulties of the pandemic.

This is where looking at each individual and how their lives have been affected is crucial.


Different rewards for different situations

For example, you might decide to hand out company-wide bonuses, however big or small, once the business is more financially stable and it is possible to do so. However, while any bonus or reward in the current situation will be received well, and while many have been hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic, others have been able to save and have instead been hit in other ways. Research by Consumer Intelligence for Money Mail shows almost 50% of people are spending less since lockdown was introduced, with 38% saving more.

While some staff will have been hit financially, others may have instead been hit hardest by feeling isolated and without contact with friends and family during lockdown. Some staff may have been hit the most mentally rather than financially.

Each individual’s situation is different and when rewarding staff, it’s important to take this into account. It’s important to be empathetic to everyone’s situation and reward in a way that’s not only beneficial but respectful too.

This is why it’s important to speak to everyone on an individual basis where possible. That said, this isn’t possible to do within every organisation where teams are stretched and departments are having to deal with fast-changing Government guidelines and guidance. However, in such a unique situation it’s more important than ever to gauge everyone’s individual situations and reward accordingly.

So, for those staff who have been able to save during lockdown but may have struggled instead by feeling isolated, a little extra annual leave would be better received than a gift card for example which they could use to spend more time with friends and family once lockdown restrictions are eased.

Alternatively, a monetary bonus on top of salary or a gift card could be a huge boost for staff who have been hit hard financially.


covid-19 reward

How Flexible Benefits can help individualise and personalise reward

What are Flexible Benefits? Check out our Flexible Benefits page to find out how it works.

Blog: Guide to setting your flexible benefits allowance

Allocating rewards through your employees’ flexible benefits pot could help individualise your reward in a quick, easy and effective way.

By allocating extra flexible benefits allowance as a reward, staff can allocate their bonus towards the benefits that best suit them.

The way this works entirely depends on your employee benefits set up. A flexible benefits setup is already a great way to help staff tailor their benefits package to them, and so by allocating extra flexible benefits allowance as a reward, it allows them to tailor their reward too.


Adapt your flexible benefits to help you reward more effectively

Just like how the Holiday Trading scheme can be adapted to help businesses through COVID-19, which we’ve written about here, flexible benefits can be opened up too to give businesses and staff more options when they need them most.

For example, a traditional flexible benefits set up might allow staff to use their allowance on a handful of different schemes. However, the beauty of flexible benefits is that it can essentially be whatever you want it to be, so there’s scope to be creative with it and include even more schemes.


How to ‘flex up’ your flexible benefits

Take a look at your current benefit options and see what could be ‘flexed’. What other schemes could you look to introduce that could also be ‘flexed’? In other words, what schemes do you currently have or could add to your employee benefits package that you could allow staff to use flexible benefits allowance on?

For example, you could open up your flexible benefits allowance to be used on Instant Discounts. Staff could then use their allowance on shopping vouchers to help with the weekly shop or on everyday essentials, which is great for staff who have been hit harder financially by the effects of COVID-19.

You could ‘flex’ your Holiday Trading scheme, allowing staff to use their flexible benefits allowance to purchase extra annual leave. Some staff may have been able to use lockdown restrictions and remote working to save but instead may have felt the effects of isolation. By allowing staff to use their flexible benefits allowance to get extra annual leave, they can use it to catch up with family and friends as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Health Cash Plan could also be ‘flexed’ to allow staff to use their bonus to get additional health coverage for themselves and their family as health and wellbeing becomes ever more important.

These are just a few examples and there are loads of employee benefit schemes that can be ‘flexed’. As mentioned, typically only a few schemes are usually included under flexible benefits but opening up your flexible benefits setup to include more schemes could add another really important dimension to your reward strategy.


Setting up flexible benefits can be made easy

There are a few moving parts to flexible benefits, especially if it incorporates a lot of benefit schemes so the challenge is managing the whole process. However, when your benefits are all under one roof on an employee benefits platform the process is made a whole lot easier.

Flexible benefits has lots of layers to it, but a simple set up and management of it can have huge benefits. To find out more about how flexible benefits could work for your business, get in touch and we’ll walk you through.


covid-19 reward

How to Reward a Remote Workforce

Since social distancing measures were introduced and working remotely became a necessity for many, communicating with a remote workforce became a challenge. As did reward, as it is often the face-to-face, personal aspect of rewarding someone that makes the biggest impact.

Rewarding staff in any case is made easier and more effective with a reward platform, but particularly in the case of large companies or right now for companies where a large proportion of staff are working remotely.

A platform makes sending and receiving rewards easier and more effective. For example, with Reward and Recognition on Salary Extras, personalised ECards make it easy for staff to thank each other or even wish someone a happy birthday, while managers can create their own financial and non-financial rewards to hand out to staff.

Having a platform like this helps keep a remote workforce connected and engaged and provides the perfect hub for all things reward and recognition within a business.

Integrating your reward platform with your employee benefits is also the perfect way to encourage engagement with your benefits. By having everything in one place, it’s not only easy for staff to access and use their rewards but to take advantage of their perks and benefits at the same time too.

Right now benefits like discounts, the technology scheme and the bike to work scheme are all hugely important in helping staff save money, get their hands on homeschooling and remote working equipment or get a new bike to make commuting to work easier and greener, so it’s as important as ever to give staff easy access to their benefits.


Take the opportunity!

There’s a huge opportunity right now to reward staff in a way that will resonate long into the future, so it’s more important than ever to get it right! The benefits to be had for both staff and the business in getting reward right now are massive. Follow these steps and make sure you cover all bases and you’ll be on to a winner!


For the latest info on how caboodle are helping businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic, take a look at our COVID-19: how we can help page.

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