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The Six Pillars of a Global Rewards Program

6 pillars global rewards program

For large brands and organizations, it’s important that their global rewards program reach and engage as much of the addressable program audience as possible. In our increasingly interconnected world, global enterprises are expanding their program footprints beyond national borders, growing their audiences to different countries and regions, reaping the benefits of larger audiences.  Whether you reward for employee recognition, sales incentives, customer loyalty, or otherwise, the benefits of a global program can be captured with an effective global reward strategy.

Much like a domestic program, a global rewards program need a clear and specific strategy when it comes to blueprinting the program audience. This includes locations and number of desired users, but also includes an understanding of the demands of languages, currency implications, and reward for each location. It’s important that international participants not feel alienated from your organization or feel that the program isn’t suitable for them. With potentially dozens of unique countries and cultures in your programs, this could get complicated. However, a good rewards solutions provider should always be there to help!

Here are 6 key pillars to consider when crafting effective and inclusive global rewards programs:

Localization and Language Translations

Localization and Language Translations

In global programs, personalizing the experience becomes both more complex and more important. Global participants can be hundreds or even thousands of miles away, yet they still have to feel at home in your program.

A Chinese Reward Mall Option from a WorkStride Program

At minimum, your global rewards program should be personalized for language, especially if English isn’t a lingua franca among your participants. Deciding which languages to include in your program necessitates an understanding of the desired audience in global locations. Do they all speak, read, and tend to work in English? Do they prefer their native language for work programs? Are there regional differences in the same language? Is there a preference for a toggle between more than one? After auditing global language preferences, you’re left with a list of desired languages for your global reward program which you can incorporate into your program’s user experience.

Global Currency Conversions

Global Currency Conversions

Another preference to consider in global reward programs is program currency preferences, especially since exchange values and conversions fluctuate daily. Navigating across countries means dealing with various currencies. This leaves a program decision to make.


What will be the relationship or logic behind hosting your program currency (points, US dollars, foreign currency), and how does that affect the user experience? Will participants have to redeem for their reward and then convert it? Remember that Mexican Pesos are virtually useless in Italy, or even in Canada, so appropriate payout methods are important to the repeat engagement of your program. An effective reward solution can reconcile these currency conversions. Your Professional Services team at WorkStride, for example, can advise on appropriate currencies and points, which can be hosted as locally or USD, to be converted at redemption. 

Purchasing Power

Purchasing Power

Beyond basic currency conversions, it’s important to consider parity. Parity refers to the exchange rate between currencies of two different countries that make the purchasing power of both currencies substantially equal. According to the law of one price, the rate between two different currencies should naturally adjust so that a given good should cost the same in two countries, relative to their local social and monetary norms. The concept of purchasing power is vital for global reward programs. 

Simply giving your global participants access to your rewards program does not ensure purchase equity throughout. This means rewards given across countries may not truly be consistent, until they adhere to a good parity strategy. If a $10 reward holds strong influence in one country, but $10 lacks the same purchasing power in another country, the reward value in the second becomes unmotivating. The second country reward should flex so that it holds a consistent impact across the program. What makes this concept exponentially more challenging is that local monetary norms are constantly changing!

So how can global programs keep up with various local purchasing power to determine an effective reward strategy? It starts with a source of truth. Enter the Big Mac Index.

If there’s one company that has excelled at a global footprint, it’s the old golden arches of McDonalds. Due to the requirement of sustaining equal purchasing power for consistent McDonalds goods globally, the company takes strides in creating purchasing power consistency for its crown jewel product, the Big Mac. In fact, so much so that the product was the source of a somewhat satirical take on Purchasing power parities (PPP) introduced by Pam Woodall in a 1986 issue of The Economist

Like McDonald’s did, a good global rewards program should tie currency conversion to some form of parity index to confirm that rewards being distributed across countries hold an equal influence and motivation for all. 

Global Rewards Tax Administration

Global Rewards Tax Administration

Tax requirements and compliance, which could be a burden in a domestic program, become an even more robust challenge for many companies with global reward programs. General tax administration for reward programs involve collection of user tax identifications, tracking and reporting of earnings above taxable thresholds, issuance of income forms and other documentation, and tax filing with local tax authorities. 

In global reward programs, the complexity lies in the many various requirements and protocols that are distinct within each country. For example, in the United States, programs are used to collect social security numbers for individuals and EIN numbers for business users. In Canada, an SIN is the equivalent of the U.S. SSN, and in Indonesia it’s a Nomor Induk Kependuduka. In addition to differences in naming conventions, formats of taxpayer identification numbers can differ making the collection process non-standard and instead, uniquely tailored per country.

Tax identification numbers in other countries

As global reward program performance and activity builds up, participants earn rewards. If they’re lucky (or unlucky?), they’ll earn enough program value to hit a taxable earning threshold that is subject to taxation given local regulations. It’s important to work these thresholds into your program’s tax design to ensure that the right earners are receiving the right documentation at the right time to be compliant in their respective countries. 

Once a structured suite of reports of taxable users per country are generated, issuance of tax forms to those participants should take place, as well as filing reports with all required data fields to all local tax authorities. 

As complex and often head-spinning global reward program taxation could be, your reward program provider like WorkStride should provide service to help take on some of the heavy lifting!

Global Rewards Assortment

Global Rewards Assortment

Another compelling element of a meaningful global program design is the mix of reward options your participants are able to redeem for. Like domestic programs, in global rewards program participants should also have the ability to choose from options within different reward types like gift cards, prepaid cards, merchandise, and more. 

Global reward program design involves a strategic and creative reward assortment that is attractive to participants all over the world. Each country should be outfitted with a unique redemption experience with options that are relevant to them based on their location, in their preferred language. It’s good to mix universal gift card options like Amazon with more local options that feel relevant and personal. U.S. programs tend to get off easy in localizing the reward options to be relevant and meaningful. However, when expanding across borders, what might be meaningful for the U.S. may be lackluster overseas. 

For example, a U.S. based gift card retailer like Dick’s Sporting Goods may hold little attraction in Germany, but Decathlon, a more European sporting goods brand with 110 store locations in Germany is likely to have more appeal in Germany and even Europe in general.

Global Rewards Program Customer Service

Global Rewards Program Customer Service

You’ve now considered your countries and audiences with the enticing rewards to match, and have also considered you and your participants tax implications. Now, the program isn’t complete without a wide reaching customer service team to support these global audiences. In domestic programs, this is fairly straightforward, but as you grow beyond borders, other things must be considered- like languages, time zones, methods of communication, and global expertise. This layer of reward program design is often overlooked, but it remains an important part of your global rewards program, as they deal directly with your participants on a day to day basis. 

In addition to being experienced, they should obviously also be amicable people, and equipped to cover multiple languages and time zones to minimize blackout times while supporting these global programs. The exact languages needed are audience dependent, but continual coverage and reduced wait times are important, just as they are in US based channel incentive, employee recognition, or other loyalty rewards programs.

A bad redemption experience is detrimental to your success because it delays your reward. A customer service team that is familiar with servicing global rewards is key. Consider popular redemption options like Starbucks or Amazon, which offer country specific rewards but have particular nuances that can confuse your audiences.  

For example, Starbucks cards are currency specific, meaning they can only be used in the currency they were issued– except in Canada and the USA, where they can be used interchangeably and the price will auto adjust.  Another is Amazon in Europe, where subscribers in the United Kingdom can easily order from Amazon France, for example. However, Amazon gift cards are locked to their specific region, so the same user from the UK could not redeem for an Amazon France gift card to use in his UK account. It is important to have a customer service team with the experience to know and understand these nuances to give your global participants the best experience possible. 

WorkStride is a world-class provider of reward programs for leading global brands. Drive engagement for your global rewards program with our solutions and contact us today!

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