How to reward and incentivise your employees this Christmas
For many organisations, effectiveness over the Christmas period is a good litmus test for overall performance – annual targets must be met and customer contracts renewed. Both, of course, require motivated workforces.
You’ve been in the game long enough to know that, where employee engagement is concerned, Christmas counts. You’ll also know that a week is a short time in business.
You can never be too early in starting the preparation for your employees' Christmas reward and incentive strategy, so now's the time to plan.
Why reward your employees at Christmas?
We reward employees at Christmas to show appreciation towards the people who devote a huge amount of their lives to our organisations. While the human element to this needs little explanation, if you’re building a business case for holiday rewards, you might need more tangible evidence in favour of their value.
Last year, M&S’s corporate wing conducted research to address this ROI-shaped problem. It gathered the opinions of directors and owners of top UK firms – most of which sourced from The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies, The Guardian’s Britain’s Top Employers, and the Great Places to Work Awards shortlist – on the effect Christmas rewards have on performance.
Of companies that rewarded their employees over the holiday period, it found that almost 50% saw an improvement in staff motivation and productivity levels on returning to work in the New Year. Hitting both objectives – the recognition of employee commitment and secondary boosting of long-term productivity – requires a knowledge of what rewards are worth their investment.
A recent McKinsey Quarterly survey shedded new light on the reality of financial bonuses. Some 68% of the 1049 executives and managers it studied said they ‘always’ or ‘mostly’ fork out cash bonuses as an annual reward – yet just 60% believed them to be effective. Nonfinancial incentives, on the other hand, were issued by 52% of respondents with 64% believing them to be effective.
It would seem that if you’re in the business of making returns on your investments (who isn’t?), annual bonuses and straight-up financial rewards aren’t particularly effective. The most impactful rewards come as part of a sustained and authentic employee engagement strategy.
Effective rewards and incentives over the Christmas period:
Make your employees' rewards sharable with friends and family
Any reward you offer will pale in comparison to the time your employees spend with family and friends over the Christmas period. It is, however, possible to use your reward to facilitate and improve that time.
There's a range of how much you can offer to employees over Christmas. While some employers may cover the expenses of family weekends away as an alternative to a cash bonus, offering incentives such as shopping and restaurant vouchers, or discounted experiences days are just as powerful.
Another important alternative not to forget, is the immense value of simply allowing extra time out of the offer as a reward. This provides your hard-working employees precious time to spend with their family and friends over Christmas.
Providing rewards that can be shared with loved ones also helps to boost your employer brand and spread the message further afield, which in turn can boost your talent pool for future hiring opportunities.
Place a focus on wellness
As an antidote to the upped intake of mince pies and eggnog, wellness incentives go a long way. According to Workplace Insights, one third of employees resent the lack of wellbeing programmes offered by their organisations.
For employers, the benefits of providing wellness incentives are twofold: they demonstrate an interest in your employees health, while also boosting performance and motivation.
Consider offering your employees wellness incentives of gyms memberships, yoga classes or cooking courses. These can be used long into the new year and provide a nice surprise amongst all the chocolate and cheese around over the Christmas Period. It's important to remember too, that Christmas can be a difficult time for some, so providing a means for your employees to look after mental wellbeing can be a great support.
It's also important to mention that when you focus on wellbeing, your business will reap the rewards of having happier and healthier team members who are statistically less likely to take sick days and suffer from stress.
Personalise rewards and incentives for individuals
One employee’s orange is another employee’s lump of coal – or however the saying goes. The point is, a reward that’s tailored to an individual’s taste can have greater significance at less cost. There will inevitably be a degree of diversity in your organisation – be it age, religion or personality – so it’s worth thinking about how your rewards will be received.
The companies that excel in this space – Google, John Lewis, Virgin – are famed for their deep understanding of their people, something that fuels standout employee incentives. The trouble here is fairness, which is why you also need to offer variety....
The best way to ensure your incentives appeal to all is by offering a variety of rewards for your workforce to choose from. The demographics of your organisation should determine the direction in which you take your selection – an office of under 25s, for example, might not be so motivated by family holiday vouchers.
With a clear idea of reward budget per employee, consider conducting a staff survey to identify the how your teams wish to be rewarded. Combine open ended questions with a selection of discounts or vouchers for retail, restaurants, or experience offers.
Don't save all your rewards and recognition for Christmas
Reward and recognition, like dogs and goldfish, are not just for Christmas. While the festive season holds extra gift-giving clout, the downside is that rewards are often quickly forgotten. Incentivising your people throughout the year will improve employee satisfaction and performance.
An employee engagement programme makes incentivisation a year-round thing. These programmes enable managers to reward and incentivise staff throughout the year, perhaps while issuing more substantial benefits around the Christmas period in line with employee performance.