What type of Christmas incentives are popular at the moment?
For many employers knowing what to offer staff as a Christmas incentive can be difficult. Typical incentives that are well received among staff might include Christmas hampers, bottles of champagne, wine or chocolates. The popularity of hampers is certainly on the rise- particularly those which cover a wide range of tastes. However with most staff being motivated by different benefits, gifts such as these, may not cater to all tastes. Shopping vouchers such as SayShopping vouchers can be the perfect alternative. The vouchers allow staff to choose their own gift, ranging from well-known fashion brands and luxury dining to the latest in electrical goods. A gift at Christmas can contribute to staff morale and help build stronger relationships into the New Year.

Are Christmas parties, gifts and bonuses still going strong?
Many people have come to expect Christmas parties – but in contrast some hate them. It can be difficult to make sure that all employees feel rewarded for a good year’s work, balancing the needs of those who prefer to socialise with their families with those who look forward to the work Christmas party months beforehand.

It is important to try to encourage some form of group activity during the year, so that there is a general team spirit formed. Christmas can sometimes become a forced entertainment fixture, which needs to be negotiated carefully. Here at Sodexo Motivation Solutions, we have started ‘celebrating success’ in more quiet periods outside of Christmas. We now have a biannual get together at a variety of venues, all appealing to different people and their personalities.

Whatever your corporate style, make sure it fits with your employee base, e.g. younger employees might not appreciate a family day – whilst a more mature workforce won’t always enjoy a booze up with their work colleagues.

Is there a clear link between incentives and performance?
We have always believed there is a strong link between incentives and performance. Employees are motivated by a variety of things in the workplace. Money is not always the most effective incentive when aiming to get the best out of your employees. An enjoyable work environment, strong team atmosphere and feeling of inclusion are often more powerful ways of motivating an employee than cold hard cash. Simple employee benefits, such as childcare vouchers, are a low cost way for companies to incentivise their staff. Additionally, incentives such as shopping vouchers offered for meeting a target or beating a deadline can be a great way of rewarding and incentivising staff.

It’s all about correct timing. The greatest productivity can be gained when the desired behaviour is rewarded immediately and unexpectedly, rather than waiting for traditional times such as Christmas (when bonuses are expected regardless of effort demonstrated). However, above all, it is important to remember that a simple thank you can go a long way.

Are employers using Christmas incentives to boost sales targets?
Of course, when times are tough, Christmas incentives can often be the last on the list of business priorities when considering the end of year period. However a leaner Christmas can often lead to an increase in the demand for staff incentives such as shopping vouchers, as a way of boosting income and motivation during a traditionally busy holiday. As the year-end approaches, Christmas incentives can offer a last chance to boosting employee performance to meet annual targets. Nonetheless, by consistently listening to staff needs and catering to them in a more consistent manner, you can create and sustain a positive and motivated staff all year round.