Motivating staff in the festive season

Golden gift boxes on abstract background

The run-up to Christmas is a time to obtain staff feedback and build momentum for the year ahead, says Bill Alexander, chief executive officer, Red Letter Days for Business

Key points
• Employers should not let top talent head off on their Christmas break without finding out how they felt about working for their organisation in 2015 and what they want
to see in 2016.

• A thank you at the end of the year is crucial, even if the business hasn’t hit target. This will keep staff motivated and engaged over the Christmas break to come back and achieve great things in 2016.

• Employers could launch new employee campaigns and benefits the first week in January to instantly engage employees after the festivities.

Employers that use the run-up to Christmas to listen to what staff want from 2016 will benefit from an engaged and motivated workforce in the new year.

For many organisations, Christmas is a crucial time as it can mark the year-end and be the biggest earning quarter. Keeping a workforce motivated and driven to achieve great things right to the end of the year can be challenging.

Christmas is also a time when businesses can make a mistake by letting staff, looking forward to a well-earned rest, go off on their holidays without addressing any internal issues. This results in top talent succumbing to the ‘new year, new you’ motto in search of new job ventures. So what can organisations do to keep employees happy, engaged and motivated over Christmas and into 2016?

Ask employees what they want from 2016
The last few weeks before the Christmas break is the perfect time for an employer to ask staff how they felt about working for their organisation in 2015, and what motivated and de-motivated them. It can use this time to also find out what its employees would like from their job in 2016, and whether it should consider introducing any new internal policies or employee benefits.

It is crucial this communication is conducted personally, for example through face-to-face meetings with individual teams. A survey shared with the organisation on email unfortunately won’t cut it and could risk disengaging staff with the activity.

Once the information is gathered all of it should be listened to and considered when launching plans and campaigns for the new year. Employees are the people on the ground working for the business day-in-day out, so they really do hold the key to a happy and engaged workforce.

Say thank you at the end of the year
A recent survey, Festive employee rewards, published by Red Letter Days for Business in October, revealed that over half of UK employees respondents have never received a Christmas reward or gift from their employer. This figure is certainly alarming because a ‘thank you’ at the end of the year, whether the organisation has done well or not, is crucial to make staff feel valued. Obviously the thank you will not be of a high value if the business has not performed, but a personal handshake from a manager to say, ‘We didn’t hit target but thank you for your hard work; here’s to next year!’ will make much more of an impact than many people think.

A small gift that shows appreciation to staff will make them leave for the festive break feeling positive about their role. The survey found that the top five festive rewards employers would like to receive are a cash bonus, a voucher to spend on themselves, a team cash bonus, a night out on the organisation, or a team away day. From experience, the motivating effect from a cash bonus does not last very long as it will often be spent on household bills; a voucher is much more rewarding.

Launch new campaigns in the first week in January

We’ve all been there: arriving back at work after the Christmas break feeling a little glum as the festivities are over. It’s a tough time to motivate. This is exactly why the first week back after the Christmas break is the ideal opportunity to launch new employee campaigns, incentives and benefits. It will give employees a boost and something to strive towards.

Recognition campaigns should never last a short while, however, launching a mini-recognition campaign that incentivises staff to work hard in January works very well. Set a target for the end of January with an exciting reward at the end of it, such as a team night out. It will generate an instant buzz in the office and start employees on the path to achieving great things in 2016.