Using visa gift cards, is an easy and affordable way to retain valued employees. It does not have to be an expensive card. It is the symbolism that is important. The recognition is the important thing. The gift card is just the method of recognition.
Why Use Gift Cards?
The card links the company to rewarding performance. That recognition will improve retention. Again the point is not to be giving money or equivalence. The point is to recognize valued contribution. Using a gift card is simple, useful and easy to obtain. The person who is recognized can keep it and use it for anything they want to reward themselves. This becomes a secondary benefit to you.
When the person who earns the gift card is first recognized for whatever their contribution, it reflects well on your company. When they use the card, they will be reminded again that the reward is attached to the company and the good behavior. Subliminally, this personal reward is tied back to the company. In other words, the company gets credit twice for a single recognition.
How much you chose to give is up to you. A small companies may have an employee of the month program. If you give out 12 cards with $25 that is $300, a small amount for the retention benefits you will receive in return.
It also depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are using it as a top reward for excellent performance where someone has brought in millions of dollars in sales over the course of a year, a $25 reward is probably not significant.
The key here is to find a way to make the reward more important to the amount or value. For example, one company I know, had a candy dish that was moved from desk to desk depending on who was the employee of the month. They were given free refills once a week. That was not the point. It was a decorative dish that no sane person would chose. It stood out like a sore thumb. It was the symbolism of having it that was important.
Your job is to find a way to make the reward more important than the visa gift card itself. Make it fun and competitive. Get creative, you can create customized gift cards for each month or by type of recognition... most improved, best idea, highest close ratio etc.
I suppose at American Express they probably don't give away Visa gift cards but it would be kind of weird to give away American Express Cards at American Express. Almost every big box store has some sort of card program. The Lowe's and Target's of the world all have them.
I-tunes gift card is a great option but the problem with some of these options is the flexibility. The beauty of Visa gift cards is you can use them anywhere for what you want. If the recipient wants to treat their family to ice cream or wants to buy a new item of clothing, it is no problem. Remember you want that employee to experience the secondary reward. That is why a card like the visa card works best.