A survey published in HR Review found that less than one fifth of UK companies are still planning an office Christmas party for 2020. Ongoing restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic mean that many employers are looking for new ways to reward their staff after a difficult year.
Some employers though are taking a different approach by choosing to reward staff with local gift card programmes that help to bolster local economies. Town and City Gift Card programmes are available in over 50 towns and cities around the UK, and can be redeemed with traders across retail, leisure, hospitality and services- giving employees huge choice in their reward but also locking in spend locally.
Each Town and City Gift Card is a prepaid Mastercard. This, and the wide variety of places where the card can be spent, makes Town and City Gift Cards a secure way to gift, allaying potential concerns about purchasing single retailer gift cards. The Town and City Gift Cards programme received the award for the best use of prepaid at the Incentive Awards .
When it comes to rewards that are valued by employees, gift cards come top suggests research by The Incentive Research Foundation, as cash tends to get eaten up by day to day bills.
Employers can also take advantage of the UK trivial benefits scheme. A business can give an employee a benefit of up to £50 without paying tax, as long as it isn’t cash. The Gift Card and Voucher Association found that 98.6% of gift cards are spent within a year of being received. Good news for communities is that people also spend more than the value of the gift card they receive, around 65% more in fact.
“We’ve had high profile experts like Martin Lewis advise against buying gift cards this year for Christmas but with local gift card programmes, employers can support their area in a secure way whilst giving a gift of choice,” said Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, the fintech behind the Town and City Gift Cards programme:
“If you buy your staff a £50 Amazon voucher, that money is gone out of your area. If you spend £50 on a Town and City Gift Card which can be spent with local traders, then the value of that £50 will be multiplied several times as those traders in turn spend locally with suppliers. Your £50 can turn into £500 for your local area.
“Put another way, 7.6 million people have jobs at risk in the UK in 2020. If you consider that the average salary in the UK is just under £30,000, for every £300,000 you can lock into your local area, you can support 10 jobs. In Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, over £150,000 has been spent through its Enniskillen Gift Card, that’s the equivalent of 5 jobs. When you start thinking this way, you start to see the benefits of using local gift cards to reward your staff.
“Amazon has experienced record profits this year, but businesses, particularly small independent businesses in the places where we all live are struggling. They’ve had to adapt to survive 2020 and Christmas is a pivotal time for them, it is make or break. They have suppliers to pay, families to feed and local people to employ. Purchasing locally this Christmas can be the difference as to whether independent traders are still in your town next year. Most Town and City Gift Cards purchased for Christmas will be redeemed in January to March, which is usually the quietest time for businesses.”