It’s common knowledge that the holiday period can bring many distractions, with employees juggling the pressures that come with Christmas alongside their day jobs. But the New Year brings fresh challenges too. We spoke to Iain Thomson, Director of Incentive & Recognition at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services about how to overcome some of these challenges.

January is typically associated with fluctuations in the job market, with many people looking for a fresh start in the New Year. In order to retain the staff and maintain productivity during this period, businesses should therefore reassess their incentive packages and ensure they are tailoring them to encourage greater productivity, boost motivation and build loyalty.

Health benefits

For many employees, January means detoxing, getting a gym membership and trying to establish a healthier routine to compensate for overindulging over Christmas. As such, businesses looking to reward staff in the New Year should consider offering health-related perks. This can range from discounted gym memberships to simply bringing fresh fruit into the office to support staff who are looking to eat more healthily.

Perks like these will not only help staff with their New Year resolutions, but will also show that managers are listening to them and introducing rewards that benefit their personal goals, which will help to establish greater loyalty between employees and the business. Introducing health-based rewards will also prove beneficial to the company, as a healthy workforce will result in fewer absences due to illness, which will help to improve productivity levels.

The pressures of finance

After the excesses of Christmas, January can also leave many employees with large overdrafts or bills to pay. Financial stress can have a huge impact on staff and can leave employees feeling distracted and concerned. New research from the CIPD has found that one in four people perform poorly at work due to money worries, highlighting how serious the issue is.

Businesses should avoid the quick fix of offering financial bonuses or rewards to address this issue, however, as this doesn’t always leave staff feeling valued in the same way as more personalised benefits or gifts. As such, businesses should consider other ways of helping staff who may be low on funds.

For example, multi-store discount or gift cards are a great way to reward staff over the January period, as they allow employees to treat themselves to something in the sales without impacting their personal finances. Gift cards and vouchers also tend to be more personal than cash, as the business can purchase a card for a specific retailer that the employee likes.

After putting so much focus on rewarding staff at Christmas, it is crucial that businesses do not overlook their team in January. If companies want to reduce the risk of staff looking for new jobs and challenges, they need to re-consider how they are rewarding their peak performers.

Supporting staff during January will help ensure that motivation remains high and that productivity remains strong, which is what every business wants at the start of a New Year.