It’s that time of the year again, when shops fill to the brim with Christmas presents, the tinsel goes up and mince pies are rolled out by the dozen.
It’s that time of the year again, when shops fill to the brim with Christmas presents, the tinsel goes up and mince pies are rolled out by the dozen. It’s also a time when businesses up and down the country get ready for a month of festivities and the Christmas break.
But with Secret Santa and the annual office party an established rite of passage for many organisations, firms need to ask themselves: is December really the best month for employers to be handing out extra rewards?
The short answer is no. Businesses shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that rewards and incentives need to be confined to one month of the year. In fact, rewarding employees in January can be a great way to kick off the New Year and keep staff motivated once the December razzmatazz has died down. We caught up with Jamie Mackenzie, Director, Sodexo Engage for his views.
Banish the January blues
The return to work after the Christmas break can be enough to strike terror into even the happiest of employees. No more Love Actually on a loop, the waistband a bit tighter, the bank balance lighter, and dark, gloomy mornings can make getting back into the swing of things an uphill struggle.
Not surprisingly, one study found that employees are more likely to call in sick in January than in any other month of the year.
But this dip in motivation and energy can have a knock-on effect on the whole business. An employee’s willingness to go that extra mile may disappear as quickly as that last serving of Christmas pudding. Regular tasks take longer, the quality of work begins to slide, and employees may even start to look elsewhere.
In fact, according to one study, the number of job searches surges by a third at the start of January compared to December. For all these reasons, businesses need to do all they can to help employees stay motivated and engaged in the New Year by giving them something to look forward to.
With as many as one in three Brits feeling pressured to spend more money than they can afford at Christmas, financial and savings initiatives can be a great way to help cash-strapped employees recover from the costs of Christmas.
Research found 95% of workers aged 35-54 worry about money, and more than three quarters of staff with money worries said it impacts their work. Paying a bonus in January rather than December can help take away the stress of the Christmas credit card bill. Similarly, rewarding staff with gift cards they can use to splurge in the January sales can be more effective than end-of-year gifts.
Being creative and coming up with social ideas for the whole team can be a real motivator, so employers should consider bringing in Ted Talk style speakers to give inspirational leadership talks to start off the year on the right foot.
Also, with December an action-packed month for most people, throwing a ‘Not New Year’s Eve’ party in January can also be a great alternative to the Christmas work-do, giving everyone something to look forward to.
Say Thank You
The power of saying thank you shouldn’t be underestimated, with as many as two thirds of workers likely to leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated.
It doesn’t have to be about grand gestures, but rather taking the time out to recognise someone’s contribution. Whether that’s in the form of a cinema ticket, gift card or an extra day’s holiday, perks like these not only make people feel better about themselves, but also will build greater loyalty and engagement with the business.
Dark mornings and early sunsets can take their toll, so employers may also want to consider introducing flexi-working patterns. Research has shown that as many as 30% of employees have left a job because it didn’t offer flexible work options and a whopping 80% said they would be more loyal to their employers if they were given greater flexibility.
If flexible working isn’t possible, firms may want to think about ways to make work a bit more diverse – perhaps by giving more autonomy or allowing employees to spend quieter periods working with another team learning new skills.
Ultimately, putting the focus on rewards and recognition in January can help to inject some feel good factor into the workplace and set everyone in good stead for the year ahead.