The true value of employee rewards at Christmas

To mark the end of a busy and productive working year, Christmas is the perfect time for employers to provide staff with a thank you to remind them of their value, and create positive feelings and motivation for the return to their desks in January. Here's how to approach seasonal rewards as part of your ongoing employee incentive programme.


Rewarding employees at Christmas


1. Give something of value

We are all familiar with the Christmas bonus. For companies that like to keep ahead of the game, alternative types of reward are on offer that can make staff feel more special.

For example, while financial rewards are easily absorbed into general outgoings (especially at an expensive time of year like Christmas) gift cards enable you to personalise the gift, like choosing an outlet that is relevant to the individual, demonstrating how well you know your staff. Or you could offer employees a range of different gift cards and allow them to choose themselves. This ensures that the gift – and the thoughtfulness behind it – will be appreciated all the more.

As Christmas is a time for family, offering gifts or rewards that enhance an employee’s time with loved ones will have significant value. For many, the difficulty of maintaining a work-life balance is paramount, so for those who have had to sacrifice home time to get the job done, a reward that facilitates family time could be the best possible Christmas bonus.

For example, such a reward could be covering a weekend away or giving travel vouchers towards a family holiday.  Gifts like these help to make the extra time spent at work worthwhile and stretch the reward, as the good feeling will be felt again when the vacation is taken. 


2. Make it personal

It’s not only the gift itself, but the way that it’s given that can maximise its impact. Don’t underestimate the personal touch, especially at Christmas.

You could consider presenting rewards personally or, in larger companies, ensure this approach is filtered down through management, so that everyone is individually thanked. Making this effort goes a long way to making an employee feel genuinely appreciated for their hard work, and good feeling like this will last into the New Year and beyond, increasing motivation and, crucially, loyalty. 


3. Make it fun by creating anticipation

Companies implementing employee incentive programs are aiming to incentivise staff throughout the year, to extend the feel-good feeling. An increasing number of businesses are staggering Christmas rewards, so that some is given pre-December with the remainder presented in the New Year. This approach gives staff something to look forward to in January, when they may be feeling a little lacklustre, and it brings some positivity back to the office during what can be a challenging period.

Taking this a stage further, some businesses like to reward staff on a more regular basis with the option to earn some form of bonus every couple of months, perhaps culminating in a larger sum at Christmas. This helps to maintain a more constant level of staff motivation throughout the year, rather than concentrating it all at one time. Of course the ultimate would be to allow staff to choose how they want to be rewarded; the single, larger reward at Christmas versus the ‘little and often’ approach. Having the flexibility to offer both options is certainly the best way to keep your wider workforce in good spirits and feeling valued.


4. Recognise why rewards matter

When considering the introduction of an ongoing staff incentives or recognition scheme, Christmas could actually be the perfect time to announce it. Alongside the presentation of that year’s seasonal rewards, the knowledge that an ongoing scheme is being activated is incredibly motivational for the year ahead and will make the return to work on a cold, dark January morning rather more appealing. For any employee, knowing that their boss appreciates their efforts and wants to repay them on an ongoing basis is a real driver to succeed.

It’s no secret that rewards and recognition are a route to employee engagement and motivation, but the type of reward selected and the way that it’s presented are also crucial to maximise impact. As satisfying as traditional, financial bonuses can be, there are many more options open to employers now and it makes sense to consider what best-suits your workforce when making plans for your Christmas rewards programme. 


If you'd like to learn more about what businesses have achieved through employee incentive programs, see our employee recognition success stories page. Contact us for further information. 


This is the first of four Christmas themed blogs. Next time we'll be looking at alternative options for the work Christmas Party...

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