There are few people who find their workplaces an inspiring place to be in the first few days of January.

Those who have worked hard through Christmas are jaded after the rigours of the previous weeks. And for those returning to work from the bubble of holidays and time spent at home with nearest and dearest, or simply enjoying down time, the return to work simply unwelcome.

Over the past few years one new trend I have noticed among our clients is the increasing number of people investing in New Year reward.

In addition to the usual pre-Christmas spike in demand from employers who want to recognise the hard work of their people through the year, more organisations are seeing what they can do to give their workers a motivational pep at the start of the year.

Research for our 2015 annual report into Christmas Reward and Recognition shows that it is now a significant minority of employers who does – around a quarter.

There are many employers who use reward and recognition outside of the Christmas period to drive business results but, in my view, far too few understand the real opportunities to make a difference with this approach.

That’s a shame because, outside of salary and benefits, reward and recognition provides a powerful tool for leaders and managers to engage employees in meeting specific business challenges and targets.

The fact they aren’t used as widely as they could be isn’t down to a belief that they can’t deliver a positive impact in this way, but because not enough employers take time to think through how and when they can be used effectively.

For me, this a symptom of a broader ‘recognition deficit’ where many managers and leaders fail to regularly praise and thank individuals and teams for a job well done.

The big opportunity in 2016 is for employers is to address this.

Incentivising employees is part of the solution but what is critical is a bigger shift to a culture of recognition where managers, leaders and individuals see a thank you for a job well done something as a day-to-day which is part of the fabric of the business – not just something which happens at Christmas.

Andy Philpott is director of sales and marketing at employee reward and recognition provider Edenred. You can read more at www.edenred.co.uk/ehub or follow me on twitter @andy_philpott   

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