How are you rewarding your staff this year for a job well done? If you’re deciding on a gift, a ceremony or a buffet – then before you go full steam ahead take a look at some of these horror stories! Whether you want to keep costs down or feel happy to splurge, want to run an incentive or’change the rules’ at the last minute there are some lessons to be learned before you do anything this festive season!

Gift age appropriately 

“They say a Christmas gift can be a bit of a turkey – we actually got turkeys one year. The only problem is the average age on the sales floor was about 19 years old and it was fair to say most people didn’t really want a bit of poultry. After a trip to the pub on the last day I took a look outside as my taxi pulled away after the night had ended and saw about 15 thawing turkeys left on pub benches- which although did look funny was not quite the memorable gift management had hoped for.”

Don’t engineer goodwill 

“We had a fractious year and morale was so low. The company opted out of any gifts or bonus but instead set up a secret santa – picking people who weren’t the best of friends to try and ‘engineer’ some goodwill. One girl got a mug with a giant statement on it – I’ll say no more, another got a mouthwash and a can of deodorant – the whole thing was a disaster.”

Make it fair

“There was an end of year incentive for a gift card for a holiday, but we were told that as we had all come ‘so close’ to the target (not strictly true) we were told it would be based on luck rather than skill – literally, names were pulled from a hat. The worst part was we didn’t see the draw and it turned out that the MD’s daughter who’d been there a week won the prize. Instant demoralisation!”

Take a human approach

“There was a drive to prevent illness where we were told we would get a gift for a period of no sickness during the last week of trading before Christmas. However, the business also treated us to a lunch and served a lukewarm turkey buffet in the boardroom. Literally half of the company were off sick after eating it. We all came back like skeletons but were told we should have come in for the bonus, and no allowances were made – gutting.”

Don’t live and breathe the brand

“We all got given baseball caps with the company logo on. The MD seemed genuinley pleased with himself. They worst bit was marketing had since re-done the logo, so it was already out of date. I think mine is in a cupboard somewhere.”

Don’t play favourites

“We had to attend a pre Christmas ceremony thanking us for our hard work, which was fine, but instead of getting something for everyone the owner of the business thanked ‘the people we all know are critical to the business’ – and allowed them to make a speech. These happened to be the people that she drank with most nights who everyone else found completely useless.”

Be clear! 

“We were told we could all leave early on Christmas eve which was great – so we did. It was only in the New Year when we saw that we had all had half a day of holiday deducted from our allowance!”

Make it even

“For our Christmas bonus we were given a hamper- which would have been great to take home  – instead we had to share it between the team. There was 1 bottle of wine so there was an actual push and shove for the booze in the car park with one team and now ‘hamper’ is shorthand in work for a rubbish deal – ‘a real hamper’.”