Plan to avoid Christmas pitfalls

By Colin Hodgson of Edenred.

The last week has been back to school week. For schoolchildren that means starting a new term with a clean slate – for parents that means a return to normality and routine.

For those of us responsible for reward and recognition, it means making sure our plans are in place for end-of-year recognition, whether that is clients, employees or channel partners. As a business that specialises in Christmas reward and thank yous, we get to see the best and worst of how organisations go about end-of-year reward. Later this month we’ll be releasing a guide to best practice but before then, having spoken to my team, here are a few of the most common pitfalls which employers should avoid.

1. Leave it until the last minute – this is by far the most common pitfall. Despite all the best intentions, something else always takes priority and finalising the Christmas thank you keeps slipping off the agenda. For others, the issue often doesn’t arise until December comes around. The problem is that by then it is too late to plan effectively. Staff and managers disappear as they use up holiday allowances and you find yourself up against deadlines to source the reward and get it out to your employees on time. You may hate the idea thinking about end-of-year reward with the summer sun still in the sky but it is the only way to plan effectively.

2. Give the wrong reward – There’s nothing like a well-thought-out reward to reinforce your appreciation of the work your employees have done or the loyalty from your customers. Equally, there is nothing like a poorly thought through reward to leave your employees wondering whether you really value their contribution and effort through the year. Cash, wine, chocolates and hampers may have been the staples of Christmas reward in the past, but reward which is personal and allows employees to choose has a greater impact. So think beyond the clichés and offer choice and personalisation.

3. Forget to tell them about the reward – from the bottle of wine which arrives mysteriously on the desk, the extra cash bonus which goes unnoticed in December’s salary or the vouchers which get thrown in the bin with an unopened wage slip. The golden rule for end-of-year reward is you have to tell your employees about it, otherwise it goes unnoticed and sometimes even unused. Celebrate the success and the reason for giving recognition; communication is as important as the reward itself.

4. Fail to say thanks – “The company has decided to give you all £25 in vouchers for your Christmas reward this year to recognise your contribution to the business.” Factually correct but cold and barely a heartwarming way to send your employees off for the Christmas break. For end-of-year reward the act of thanks is critical; it should be personal, it should come from a manager and it should ideally be face-to-face. The act of giving the reward has to be considered as part of the recognition itself. This means you need to have a process for including and briefing all your managers in the process of end-of-year reward.

There are plenty of other pitfalls but these are by far the most common – and the easiest to avoid – I’d love to hear about ones you have experienced

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