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The 'Experience Economy' is growing

The ‘experience economy’ is growing. As House of Fraser struggles and John Lewis feels the pinch, it’s never been clearer that Brits, your employees included, are looking for value beyond the high street.


Intangible rewards, like flights, holidays and experiences, are on the rise. Last year, searches for ‘experiences’ rose 58% compared to 2016. We’ve even seen for ourselves that when given gift cards, clients’ employees prefer to share the experience and redeem at restaurants and hotels before hitting the shops. Benefits are looking for an injection of ‘experience’, and you need to move beyond cash bonuses and the high street to do it.

Cash is the king of flexible benefits, but chances are high your employees won’t use it on what you have in mind. Groceries, car fixes, bills and more benefit from cash bonuses, as well as the ‘treat yourself’ idea you might have had when you signed off your employees’ benefits. There’s a quick joy to be had in receiving a cash bonus, even more so if it’s splashed on something your employee has been eyeing up, but a longer-lasting reward can improve staff loyalty and happiness too.

A pool with sunglasses

Like Clark Griswold's pool money.

Happiness over material items fades quickly, as it does with any new thing that becomes the norm (in a process called hedonic adaptation), so your company might benefit from giving away rewards that are fleeting, but varied. From ever-changing Christmas parties (one fun-filled night) to team-building days (usually less than 24 hours of activities), you probably engage in some of these kinds of benefits already! Even shops are jumping on the experience bandwagon, with Apple turning their stores into ‘Town Squares’ so phone-buying can become a community event, rather than the somewhat selfish splurge it is now.

And that sense of community, and sharing, is where your benefits need to go next. Rewards can still be individual affairs, rather than making teams share their benefits between themselves, but let the employee choose if they’d like to share the joy with someone close to them. Give them a voucher for a meal for two and they can spend time with their other half, give them a cookery class and they can have fun with a friend.

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Give them a wall and they can make twee inspirational photos

Moments, memories and togetherness are more important to your employees than you might think, and your benefits can be used to deliver them. As generous as your benefits schemes might be, make sure they’ve got an element of ‘experience’ to them and you can be sure they’ll go further than their cash value.

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