Danny Clenaghan, Managing Director at Argos for Business, part of Home Retail Group, reflects on the benefits of gift cards as a staff reward at Christmas and their use as a motivational tool.
The festive season is the perfect opportunity for an employer to show appreciation to their employees, thank them for a job well done and keep them focussed and motivated as they head into the New Year – a notoriously difficult time when many unmotivated employees begin the search for new jobs. However, our research of over 7,000 people from across Britain’s workforce, which looked into the Christmas rewards they receive, revealed that sadly over two fifths of employees receive no gift at all from their boss at Christmas.
Of those who do not receive a gift, regionally it is employees in the South East who fare the worst, with 20.5 percent reportedly never receiving a yuletide reward for their hard work, followed by 16.7 percent in the Midlands, 14.3 percent in the North West, and 11.4 percent in the North East.Given the choice, over a third of respondents (39.5 percent) would prefer to receive retail vouchers from their employer at Christmas rather than an extra day’s holiday, which was favoured by 31.7 percent of those questioned. Interestingly, retail vouchers were also the number one gift of choice of employers, with 41 percent of decision makers saying that they prefer togive these in place of other Christmas rewards. However, with so many forms of reward and recognition available, choosing the best approach to suit the needs of the individual employee, as well as the aims of the business can be a difficult task. Some employers prefer to offer a tangible gift, but it can be difficult to pick a gift to suit different people and their individual lifestyles. What may suit a young and single employee may not suit one with a family at home.
Some employers settle for the ‘safe’ option of a Christmas hamper, however the employer must consider whether or not this is something that will be of real value to their staff. A hamper only gained 15.3 percent of votes in the Argos for Business’ Christmas survey, so employers should question if such a gift will work as an effective form of motivation, and whether this will help to enhance staff engagement. The Christmas bonus has traditionally been a popular reward, however when the funds are placed directly into an employee’s bank account, these can often get absorbed into everyday expenditure, such as household bills or other necessities, meaning that the impact of this money as an incentive can be lost; especially where the funds could have been spent on a more desirable item. As a leading provider of gift cards, incentives and motivation solutions, we were not at all surprised by the survey findings and believe the popularity of gift vouchers can be afforded to the choice, convenience and flexibility that they offer for both the employee and the employer. These results demonstrate the importance of choice and flexibility when it comes to making staff feel truly rewarded at Christmas. While the economic climate of the past few years has seen some employers cutting back on costs, it is important to bear in mind that an engaged and driven workforce is more efficient, not only creating a more positive working environment for the individual, but also helping to produce better results for the company as a whole.
For a member of staff, a reward of gift cards or vouchers can be a great motivational tool, whether they’re looking to treat a loved one, pick up some toys for the little ones during the festive season, or treat themselves, the choice is left to the individual, meaning that they can cherry-pick a gift to suit their needs. Ultimately, recognising staff needs and aspirations and being able to balance this with the aims of the business is key to making the most out of any incentive scheme. In our company, we offer our staff a range of benefits throughout the year designed to boost morale and strengthen staff relations. These include performance bonuses, discounts on Argos and Homebase products and a contribution to a staff Christmas party to ensure that everybody feels rewarded. We also hold seasonal inter-department competitions and teambuilding exercises to bring employees together and encourage interaction.