Yule need to rethink your rewards to keep staff motivated this Christmas

Christmas is traditionally a key time of the year to motivate employees with rewards and incentives. However, this year we are all dealing with a completely different set of circumstances.

Yule need to rethink your rewards to keep staff motivated this Christmas

Christmas is traditionally a key time of the year to motivate employees with rewards and incentives. However, this year we are all dealing with a completely different set of circumstances. 

Christmas at work usually consists of team parties, secret santa’s and the much awaited Christmas bonuses. This year however businesses are faced with a very different reality. Working from home, tight budgets and for some, the looming threat of redundancy has dampened Christmas spirits. Worst of all, England is entering a new national lockdown, setting back some of the business recovery that has taken place over previous months. So as the season of giving approaches, employers need to think carefully about how they reward their employees this Christmas in order to keep morale and motivation high. 

What do employees want?

What might come as a relief to many employers is that the majority of people are not expecting a gift from their boss this Christmas. In fact, 58% of people don’t think they’ll receive any gift at all, with a further 11% unsure. Staff are clearly aware of the effect that the pandemic has had not only on themselves, but on their employer. And, this year some will be happy to enter 2021 with job security and won’t be overly concerned about a stuffed corporate stocking. 

However, this feeling changes significantly across demographics. For those over the age of 57, only 8% of people were anticipating a gift from their employer this year. This increases to 40% when looking at millennials (aged 25 – 41) and for those under the age of 24, nearly half (45%) of them are expecting a Christmas gift from their employer. This is a huge disparity, and one that employers need to manage carefully. A misunderstanding between employee expectation of Christmas rewards, and the realities of what those rewards will be, can easily cause staff to lose motivation and potentially become disgruntled. 

It’s not only the expectation of a Christmas gift that is split across employees, but what that gift looks like. Almost half of people (46%) would prefer to receive a bonus on their pay cheque as a Christmas incentive and 26% would like a day off work. Understanding the different needs of employees is key to offering incentives this Christmas. Matching the reward to the preference of the employee can help maximise the positive effects of a reward.

What should employers be offering?

With such varying preferences for Christmas benefits, the aim of businesses should be to listen closely to what their employees actually want. The biggest mistake is assuming that everyone wants the same thing. Family commitments, lifestyles and financial situations all play a role. Employers that are conscious of these factors can tailor their gift appropriately. This builds loyalty as employees will feel understood and ‘part of’ the business. In difficult times like these, that feeling can make a world of difference when it comes to motivation and productivity.

What can guide a business here is offering a choice-based reward, which gives employees the freedom to use their reward to best suit their needs. Gift cards or eGifts that are choice based, allowing the recipient to redeem the value at a wide variety of outlets (in-store or online), are a great way to do this. It’s important to allow the employee to decide for themselves whether they use your reward on things for themselves, for the family or for friends and colleagues. Deliver an irrelevant or unwanted reward and you will do little to motivate or boost morale, in fact it can often have the direct opposite effect.  

65% of people believe that gift cards and eGifts make good presents. Add to that the gift card or eGift that provides choice around where to redeem the value and the relevancy goes up even further. Rather than second guess what someone would want, allow the recipient to decide. Some employees might wish to spend their reward on groceries to lower their day to day costs, another employee might find gaming content interests them and another may want to spend their value on designer clothes. With over a third of consumers cutting back on their non-essential spending this Christmas, a choice based gift card or an eGift as a Christmas treat is a great way to let employees take control over whether to spend the value on what they want or what they need.

A very different Christmas

This year it has become very difficult for businesses to make staff feel valued, but at the same time it has never been more important. Social distancing and economic unrest has created a sense of isolation between employer and employee. It’s therefore increasingly important to maintain morale, especially during tough times. To do so, businesses need to understand how their employees’ reward preferences have changed, as well as how age, hobbies, financial situation and life circumstance can impact the rewards a person would like to receive. By understanding these factors, and adapting the gift accordingly, employers can make sure that even the smallest gesture goes a long way and staff remain motivated. 

Chris Ford
Chris Ford

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