How Will You Reward Your Employees This Christmas?

Christmas bonuses can be a very tricky affair, and staff can be left feeling very hurt if they think their hard work has gone unrewarded

How Will You Reward Your Employees This Christmas?

It might only be September, but it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas. Does your company always reward employees at this time of year or will this year be the first time? Whatever the case may be, you need to make sure the reward you choose has the desired effect.

Why you should reward

Giving your employees a gift at Christmas (however big or small) can show them that you care, that you appreciate them and boost morale. It might even convince someone who is thinking about looking for a new job in January to stay with your company. The bottom line is; can you afford not to reward your employees at Christmas?

If you have a tight budget, or no budget at all, you can still make them smile if you do things in a sincere way. For instance, you could give each member of staff a £20 supermarket gift card they can put towards their Christmas shopping with a handwritten note thanking them personally for all they’ve done for the company in 2016. Alternatively, you could let all members of staff have a half-day off to go present shopping in the run-up to Christmas. Or you could take this a step further by helping them with the cost of Christmas purchases, and household expenses. Shop and Save schemes that make employees savings on their supermarket shop or discounts on home electronics, make a real difference at this time of year.

Be genuine

Whatever you do, don’t make it sound like you begrudge giving the gift. One UK hamper company sent an email explaining that staff were each receiving a free hamper worth £100+ but instead of saying it was to reward them for their hard work, they said it was because someone had accidentally ordered too many and the gift wouldn’t be repeated the following year. This turned something that should have been positive into something negative and didn’t improve employee morale.

Some companies think that making a contribution towards a staff Christmas party is enough of a reward for staff but this isn’t the case. Most people expect their Christmas parties to be paid in full by their company or at the very least a £50 contribution per person. One leading retailer gives a contribution of £10 per person and makes staff wait until January before they receive it, despite making profits of over £70 million. This leaves staff feeling underappreciated.

Giving cash

Most employees, if given the option, would choose cash as their reward but in reality, cash won’t give you the results you desire. Cash can be easily swallowed up by household bills and other expenses, with the employee often having nothing left to show for it. However, if you give the gift of an experience (for instance a pamper day, cookery workshop or overnight stay) they’ll create lasting memories and will be grateful to the company, not only on the day they receive the gift but when they actual visit the spa or hotel etc., and when they look back and remember it in the future.

A multi-retailer voucher or gift card can be a good idea as your employees can treat themselves to something they really want, either before Christmas or in the January sales. (Choosing to give a gift card that can be spent in numerous stores is key as you don’t want the person to feel too restricted.) You may be able to get the gift card branded with your company’s logo and a short message which would be a nice touch too.

Another positive of giving the gift of an experience or gift card is that you’ll often receive a discount so it can make your budget for staff rewards stretch further. If you give cash, you’ll be paying for it pound by pound so there isn’t the opportunity to do this.

Gifts to avoid

Wine and alcohol is only an appropriate gift if you know that your employees drink, otherwise it’s likely to offend someone who is teetotal. Likewise, chocolates can be a big no-no if someone on your team is dieting or diabetic. (These types of gifts often get re-gifted and passed on to someone else).

If you’re rewarding staff it’s important that you don’t alienate anyone. For instance, it can be a good idea to reward everyone in the same department with the same gift, especially if you’re handing them out in front of everyone. If one person receives a £20 gift voucher and the person next to them receives a £50 gift voucher this could cause friction. If you decide you want to give a bigger reward to managers, then do transparently but without making employees feel that it is ‘them and us’.

Give a gift that keeps on giving

If you want to make your budget stretch and give your employees a gift that will last all year, why not look at salary sacrifice schemes which might include gym memberships, mobile phone schemes and/or health plans. They could help your employees save money and/or get fit, which is great for people setting themselves the challenge of being fitter and happier in 2017!

It is also something that employees will continue to appreciate throughout the year, whereas that bottle of wine or box of chocolates however generous will be quickly consumed and forgotten about.

If you would like discuss how you can reward your staff this Christmas with a lasting gift, contact our team to discuss the right employee reward scheme for your organisation. Call 01252 784 541 or email

Richard Ellis is sales and marketing director at Connected Benefits

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