As an HR professional, you will already know the importance of thanking and rewarding your staff for their commitment and hard work during the last twelve months. However, for many businesses it is an exceptionally busy time of the year so it’s important that any reward makes an impact and is successful in motivating a diverse workforce with different preferences, priorities and tastes.

Interestingly, our recent Christmas reward survey shows that the majority of employees don’t actually expect to get an end of year gift, but those in organisations who do give something feel more positively towards their employers.

The results also show that employees don’t just feel more appreciated but are motivated to work harder for employers who offer Christmas reward.

However, it will only work if you get it right. The problem is that for the majority of employees, Christmas gifts are predictable or poorly thought-through. What they want is a reward that they value. That doesn’t mean spending big but spending smart on something which is personal, flexible and useful.

Here are five steps you can take to ensure you get it right at Christmas and beyond:

1. Make a plan and stick to it

Your end-of-year reward is unlikely to inspire its recipient if you leave it to a mad dash the week before Christmas – which will be obvious, no matter how clever you are about it.

Right now is the very latest you should be planning your end-of-year reward. Involve managers and think about how you can plan effective communication around it in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

Planning early gives you a wider choice of approaches to ensure your reward feels well considered. Instant digital reward is creating a new standard for fast, easy and efficient reward-giving, while increasing personalisation, engagement, choice and fun for the recipients.

2. Give it some thought

Christmas reward may be an end-of-year tradition, but most employees don’t want traditional rewards like chocolates and bottles of wine anymore.

If you ask your employees what they want you’ll understand how, when and what to give. It will also reduce the chance of giving the wrong gift, which can have the opposite effect of motivating someone.

Providing choice in itself creates an experience that can be fun and rewarding.  Personalised digital reward eCodes and cards linking people to a website where they then select the right gift for them is an option which combines instant reward with the choice people want.

3. Don’t forget the words “thank you”

Words are as important as actions, especially when it comes to recognition and appreciation before Christmas.

Make sure every one of your people hears a clear message about why they are being recognised and why they are appreciated. It’s a chance to make people feel good and motivated for the future.

If communication is distributed from above, it’s important that each manager and team leader takes the time to reinforce the recognition and appreciation.

4. Cash is not always king

A cash gift in the December pay slip may seem like an easy option for a Christmas reward but today the majority of people (60%) say they would prefer something different.

So rather than giving money which easily gets lost in the bank account or swallowed up by bills, do something different which keeps its motivational impact.

Vouchers, gift cards or digital rewards have double the impact on your employees: once when the reward is received and again when the reward is redeemed and spent.

5. Get it right now for a positive start to the New Year

Christmas aside, the time when massive motivation is really required is during those depressing days of early January.

A third of employees say they’d like their employer to give reward at different times of year and many others say their managers don’t understand how important reward is to them.

Consider planning a recognition and reward strategy for January that builds on the goodwill created at the end of the year. Investing in January reward is a clever way of getting performance on track at the start of the year; motivating your people, boosting your business and getting a head start on the competition.

To see the full research results, you can download a copy of ‘Are you Christmas Future, or Christmas Past?’ here:

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