The gifts that keep on giving: Ways to reward your employees this Christmas

The gifts that keep on giving: Ways to reward your employees this Christmas

As we approach the end of 2020, the nation is looking forward to putting an unbelievably challenging year behind us. However, with Covid-19 restrictio

As we approach the end of 2020, the nation is looking forward to putting an unbelievably challenging year behind us. However, with Covid-19 restrictions still very much in place, an uncertain winter lies ahead, and many people are understandably still facing various worries. From fragile financial situations to job stability, the fear and anxiety of how the pandemic might impact our lives in the new year continues.


Many businesses already recognise the importance of investing in employee engagement. From reduced absenteeism, to increased productivity and retention rates – organisations simply can’t afford to turn a blind eye to rewarding its staff. A recent study found 85% of workers feel more motivated to do their best when they are incentivised, reaffirming the opportunity businesses have to get the best out of its people, while driving more effective returns.

The crisis has thrown employee benefits and rewards firmly into the spotlight, as it has become more important than ever for businesses to find new ways to connect, recognise and support employees through this difficult time. The crisis has also had a significant impact on employee benefits. In fact, two-fifths (42%) of companies have made or are planning to make changes to their employee benefit programmes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on working life.

The Christmas holidays will undoubtedly be welcomed by many after the year we’ve faced– and is hopefully a chance to switch off, spend time with loved ones and have a well-deserved break. For businesses, in normal times the festive season is the perfect chance to show appreciation for employees hard work throughout the year, whether that’s through annual bonuses, company-wide pay rises or a Christmas party – all of which might not be possible this year.


However, regardless of whether a business is thriving, can just about see recovery on the horizon or is still weathering the storm, acknowledging and appreciating the efforts employees have made through this unprecedented year, is perhaps more crucial than ever before – particularly to end the year on a positive note and provide staff with the boost they need to come back in January, fresh faced and ready to tackle the year ahead.


With this in mind, Sodexo Engage, the employee benefits specialist, has pulled together five practical tips for managers to ensure their people can be rewarded this Christmas.



  1. Instant Rewards

Available as both a reward and a supportive mechanism, vouchers are one of the quickest, easiest and most efficient ways to say thank you to your employees this Christmas. With access to some of the UK’s most recognised supermarkets, retailers and attractions, some money towards Christmas shopping or a discounted food shop will provide employees with the Christmas spirit they may be lacking this year.

Saying thank you with rewards is not only a great way to keep spirits up during what can be a tough time for many, but also an opportunity to motivate them into the new year and beyond!

  1. Flexible working


We already know that a bit of flexibility goes a long way. The idea of everyone being glued to their desk from 9-5, with no option to work from anywhere apart from the office under the bosses watchful eye has become archaic. Over the years, the UK labour market has shifted to become progressively fluid, modernising how we spend our working lives. Indeed, remote working and learning new technologies has only increased productivity, forming the future workplace and changing the way we do business.


Reaffirming the value of flexible working, research found 92% of millennials identified flexibility as a top priority when job hunting, with 70% of UK employees stating that flexible working makes a job more attractive to them – of which 30% would prefer the option to work from home over a pay rise.


Although it may not be practical all year round, or for all types of organisations, providing employees with some flexible working over the Christmas period, particularly in the midst of the pandemic, is a generous gesture that will impact an organisation with limited disruption in the short term and boost staff morale.


  1. Extra holiday/time off

We’re not suggesting that businesses allow their team to have the whole of December off to forget this horrid year. Instead, an extra day off, or a few early finishes would go a long way. There’s a lot to be said for companies who know the importance of a work-life balance and giving employees the luxury of extra time off, over and above their usual holiday allowance, can be really good for both motivation and wellbeing.

  1. Boost your incentives 

Motivation, in general, can take a bit of a dive in December – let alone after the year we’ve had. Encouraging a big end of year push by offering some serious incentives in December, perhaps something a little further than what you’d usually provide, can provide a big boost.

As great as instant rewards are, it’s important to consider using something a little more long-term as an incentive. Travel vouchers to use in the new year will be a great motivator that continues to inspire staff loyalty in the months ahead – and we’re sure most people would appreciate getting that little bit closer to hearing those long awaited five words –  “this is your captain speaking”.

  1. A simple thank you

Money doesn’t always buy happiness, and in this case- staff appreciation. While it’s nice to receive a physical gift at Christmas, a simple thank you can do wonders. For many, feeling valued is something that can’t be bought, therefore thanking employees in a personable and individual way, can lift morale a fair bit more than a gift left on the desk (or in these times, sent through the post!).


Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, comments:

“Setting some time aside to think about what your employees really want this Christmas and how you can reward and recognise their efforts, will play a significant role in how your business fares post-crisis. How employees sign off 2020 will no doubt establish how they feel when returning to work in 2021. We don’t have a crystal ball to determine what lies ahead, but what we do know is we’ve still got an uncertain period ahead of us. Work is where most of us spend the majority of our time, therefore employers really do have a golden opportunity to support their most valuable asset – their people. ‘Tough times reveal true colours’ is a truism tailor-made for business. Heartfelt approaches along with short and long term incentives, really are the most priceless gift employees can receive, while doing wonders for an organisations recruitment, retainment and competitive edge.”