The festive season is a funny one. We kick-off with the high spirits and merry-making in December, looking optimistically through to the New Year. The whilst sparkle and good will of Christmas then keeps us toasty with the promise of a good party and much needed glass of mulled wine.

Then when the merriment fades, the January blues hit. We suddenly realise another year has gone by and nothing’s changed. The festivities cost more than they should, and the Christmas cash bonus isn’t enough to pay for a holiday abroad on top of the rent that’s due next week. So we make resolutions that this year we’re going to be fitter, better, richer. Some of us join the gym, others want to re-decorate the house, and two in five people start searching for a new career. Yes employers will soon face the annual challenge of keeping staff motivated and loyal during the festivities – and beyond. This is where incentive schemes can make all the difference between keeping hold of your best assets and losing them to the competition.

Indeed new research shows that 87 per cent of employees are less likely to leave their jobs if they are in a work environment where they feel engaged and appreciated by their employer. So in the build up to that dangerous time of year, here are my five top tips to ensure incentives become a successful method of staff retention.

  • Know your team as individuals
  • Employers need to demonstrate that they recognise every member of their team by not giving the wrong present and sending out a bad message. This will go a long way in demonstrating how much staff are valued and help gain their loyalty and commitment as a result. By getting it wrong employers could end up disappointing and even insulting their team; for example, by giving a case of wine to an employee who doesn’t drink.

  • It’s not all about the money
  • There will always be situations where a bonus is the best form of motivator, but Christmas is a time where the non-cash incentive is regarded as a more thoughtful gift, which can really boost morale and productivity. The best outcome for all! Think of it this way, when the holiday fun is over, cash will often be long forgotten, and probably spent on mundane household bills(Research findings from US market research firm Wirthlin). 

  • It’s the thought that counts
  • Tangible rewards can increase employee performance by an average of 22 per cent, with cash often whittled away on everyday living costs. Top performers are also 31 per cent more likely to consider non-cash incentives (including merchandise, travel opportunities and prepaid cards) a performance “must-have”. Memorable gifts are clearly king this Christmas!

  • Make it last
  • We all love a gift we can use for life, and not just at Christmas. Long gone are the days of giving every employee a turkey (particularly if they’re vegetarian!). Yet it can also be hard to meet all tastes within the team and buying individual, personalised gifts for each member of staff is not always feasible or practical. So, gift vouchers and gift cards can be the perfect solution.

  • Give a gift that gives
  • Gift vouchers and cards are becoming more common in rewarding employees at Christmas and throughout the year. They make it easy for the employer to give everyone on their team a personalised gift whilst not unintentionally alienating people by giving a potentially offensive present.

    Rebecca CalladineRebecca Calladine, Commercial Director for Promotions and Incentives at The Grass Roots Group

    Rebecca Calladine has almost 20 years’ experience working in the marketing, promotions and incentives industry, most notably during various roles at The Grass Roots Group  – the world’s leading provider of employee and customer engagement solutions.

    Joining the company in 1995, Rebecca kick started her career as an Account Manager and quickly progressed into client services and planning focussed roles, working with clients including E.ON, Marks & Spencers, BT, Whitbread, British Gas, Rolls-Royce, EE and Vodafone.

    Following 18 successful years, Rebecca became Commercial Director for the Promotions and Incentives division of the business in June 2014. The division creates acquisition campaigns, retention solutions and loyalty programmes to help brands to engage with customers and channel partners. A key career highlight for Rebecca was growing the Solutions Development Team from two to seven people through close management and the delivery of incremental review, whilst consistently hitting team targets.

    In her spare time Rebecca enjoys keeping fit and is a regular visitor to her local gym. She is also a keen cook, enjoying creating everything from cupcakes to curries. 

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