Whitepaper: Delivering appreciation to improve performance and sustain engagement


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It comes around at the same time every year and is a fixture in most calendars yet, in many organisations, the planning and delivery of reward, recognition and incentive payments at Christmas all too often gets left to the last minute.

This is not just a shame, it is a missed opportunity because Christmas reward and incentives are one of the big opportunities organisations have to make a clear statement of thanks to employees, which prepares the ground for increased loyalty and performance in the year ahead.

It is also an area where a few small changes can really make a difference to the impact of the reward and incentives you plan to deliver – and where getting it wrong can have a powerfully counterproductive impact.

This white paper looks at the five key areas you need to consider in order to get it right and maximise the return on the investment you make in reward and incentives at Christmas.

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Whitepaper: Delivering appreciation to improve performance and sustain engagement

  1. 1. Delivering appreciationto improve performanceand sustain engagement:How to maximise impactfrom reward & recognitionat Christmas
  2. 2. Making yourChristmas rewardand incentives countIt comes around at the same time every year and is a fixture in most calendars yet, inmany organisations, the planning and delivery of reward, recognition and incentivepayments at Christmas all too often gets left to the last minute.This is not just a shame, it is a missed opportunity because Christmas reward andincentives are one of the big opportunities organisations have to make a clearstatement of thanks to employees, which prepares the ground for increased loyaltyand performance in the year ahead.It is also an area where a few small changes can really make a difference to the impactof the reward and incentives you plan to deliver – and where getting it wrong can havea powerfully counterproductive impact.This white paper looks at the five key areas you need to consider in order to get itright and maximise the return on the investment you make in reward and incentivesat Christmas.
  3. 3. 1 Complete your planning earlyIn most organisations, Christmas brings the expectation of end of year reward andrecognition for employees. And, although in aggregate, the budget for this will besubstantial - and in some instances, represent the majority of the money put aside foremployee recognition each year - it can be the part of the reward and recognition mixwhich suffers from the least planning.It is understandably the case that budgets and attitudes towards Christmas reward,recognition and incentives can change year-on-year and progress towards the yearlytargets which have a bearing on what you give may be unclear until close to December.But, in our experience, the common factor behind a lack of planning is that not enoughorganisations take time earlier in the year to think about how they can refresh theirapproach to end of year reward and recognition in order to improve its impact as adriver of motivation and engagement.A fresh approach to reward doesn’t need to be complicated, but does need time toplan. That means starting out early to understand what worked and what could beimproved from last year, ideally by asking employees, but also by looking at bestpractice in your sector and among your competitors. You should also ask yourself whoyou are rewarding and why, and whether you are missing anyone out.At the very least, your planning should clarify business and people objectives for endof year reward, outline the processes which will support its delivery and specify howimpact on engagement and employee motivation will be measured.One last element of planning is to ensure end of year reward is managed and treatedas a principal driver of engagement and loyalty and not seen as a box-ticking admintask. At a glance: Getting planning right • Start your planning early – ideally before the Autumn • Establish how your reward, recognition and incentives measure up to employee expectations and best practice in your sector • Create a plan which incorporates objectives, processes and outcomes which can be managed and measured
  4. 4. 2 Christmas reward…not just for Christmas?One of the major assumptions which every organisation should challenge is whetheryou should continue to load all of your budget into Christmas reward, recognition andincentives.Of course, meeting employee expectations that they should get some form of rewardat this time of year is a powerful argument in favour of doing this. But when youtake a step back, for many organisations and employees, the run up to Christmas isa hectic time: a blur of hitting end of year deadlines made harder by the pressure ofpersonal planning for the festive season and a sense that there isn’t enough time toget everything done. Add in the tide of gifts which come many people’s way at thistime of year, it is easy for your investment in end of year reward to be lost in this mix –or its impact substantially reduced.So, if the goal of end of year reward and recognition is to reward loyalty and hard workwhile making a positive impact on employee performance, we think it makes sense fororganisations to think about how that investment can work harder.One approach to doing this is to stretch the investment by splitting the reward overDecember and January. Reward given when employees are struggling with the returnto work and facing a long wait until the January pay packet is likely to have a greaterimpact and be more appreciated than reward loaded into December – particularly ifemployees aren’t expecting it.More radical options would be to split the investment between a Christmas andSummer reward or to introduce a New Year reward scheme.Whichever route you chose, if your goal is to make a difference to employee engagementand performance, rethinking the timing of when you give reward and recognition candramatically improve the impact of your investment. At a glance: Spreading your investment • Ask yourself when reward and recognition would have the greatest impact for your employees • Think about spreading Christmas reward over December and January • Consider how your budget could be spread to other parts of the year to support your business objectives
  5. 5. 3 Cash versus non-cashFor some organisations, cash reward in the Christmas wage slip along with a letterfrom the boss is the sum total of their contribution to their Christmas reward andrecognition. Other organisations may go for a combination of a Christmas mini-bonusin cash along with another token of thanks to incentivise employees.If your organisation falls into one of these categories, it is important to consider whethercash reward is really doing the job in cementing recognition for your employee’scontribution to the business.On the plus side, cash is easy to administer and gives the ultimate in choice: it really isdown to the employee when and where they spend it. The downside of cash is that iteasily gets lost in the bank account, chewed up by bills and may never get redeemedfor a specific reward, thereby losing its motivational impact.So, if you are looking to maximise the motivational impact of your spend on recognition,then the argument for non-cash rewards is very compelling.By giving multi-store vouchers or pre-loaded gift cards or, as is increasingly common,e-codes, you effectively ring-fence the reward. You also give your employees the choicewhich they value while you, the employer, benefit from the double motivational impactwhich comes first when the reward is given and then later, when it is redeemed. At a glance: cash v non-cash • Non-cash reward ensures end of year reward doesn’t get lost in the mix of personal finance • Vouchers and pre-loaded cards offer the same flexibility and choice as cash but ring-fence the reward • Non-cash reward can do a better job of reinforcing the impact of any recognition and be a greater incentive for performance
  6. 6. 4 The importance of personalisationToday’s world is all about personalisation and choice. From what we watch on the TV– and online - to where we shop and the time we choose to do so, it’s an expectationwe all have.When it comes to reward, recognition and incentives, personalisation matters not justbecause it meets this expectation but because it allows employers to give somethingof value which recognises different people have different needs and priorities in life.Personalisation is also important in providing a valued alternative to the ‘bottle ofwine and chocolates’ approach to Christmas reward, or lazy approach of a single storevoucher for all – something which can leave reward feeling predictable and stale, soundermining its benefits.What this means is that when you plan reward and recognition, giving choice – interms of what the reward is used for, when it is used and how it is used - is as importantas the gift itself.That doesn’t mean you have to give cash. Personalisation can be met by empoweringemployees with ‘choice’: the ability to choose their own reward. This can be achievedthrough multi store vouchers or cards where employees can choose the retailer theyshop at which is still the most popular option at Xmas, or increasingly through onlineplatforms with employees redeeming an e-code.In our experience where reward and recognition is relevant it has more impact, sopersonalisation is critical – something which can then be built on when it comes to thefinal element: communication. At a glance: personalisation • Choice and personalisation are increasingly an expectation for many employees • Vouchers, pre-loaded store cards and e-coupons give employees the choice of when and where they redeem gifts • Relevant reward has more impact for your organisation
  7. 7. 5 Saying thank youWhile the nature of your reward and recognition is important, the importance ofgetting the ‘thank you’ right is also critical.Many organisations fail to capitalise fully on the motivational element of rewardbecause they don’t get the communication right - or fail to say thanks to employeesaltogether.At the heart of good reward communication is face-to-face thanks from their linemanager. This allows messages to be delivered clearly and directly to the employee.Managers should be clear about the contribution the employee has made and beexplicit in why the reward is being given and, of course, say thank you. It should bedone through a one-to-one and a good communications plan will ensure the timingof these meetings is consistent across the business.A second layer of communication should use team meetings to say thank you to wholeteams and reinforce any corporate messages.The final element of the corporate reward and recognition process should be a moreformal thank-you either from the CEO or relevant individual in the leadership team.A good communications plan will ensure key corporate messages are deliveredconsistently while ensuring employees feel their contribution to the business is trulyvalued both at an organisational and personal level through their manager.It will also look at how messages of appreciation can be reinforced early in the NewYear to create a more supportive and motivating environment in the post-Christmasreturn to work. At a glance: getting communication right • Organisations need to plan communications so they are consistent in messages and timing • A one-to-one thank you from the managers is a critical element of the process which should never be missed out • Organisations should seek opportunities to reinforce these messages from a corporate perspective
  8. 8. ConclusionFor many organisations, the changes they make each year to Christmas reward,recognition and incentives start and end in deciding what the budget allocation willbe.In the current climate where most of us are trying to achieve more for less Christmasreward represents a great opportunity to rethink what we do and how we do it.With better planning and creative thinking about how reward and recognition isdelivered, organisations can improve motivation and employee engagement, whilelaying the foundations for performance in the next year.
  9. 9. Christmas Rewards:for 2012 and beyondHow will you keep the focus on performance Edenred offer the widest range of reward andfor your team as 2012 draws to a close? incentive products, including prepaid cards, We can also offer efficient fulfilment and reporting services, to help take away single and multi-store retail vouchers and the administrative burden, and ourIt is never too soon to start thinking about gift cards and an online platform to help your Communication Services Team will helpChristmas and how best to reward your team, staff redeem their reward from a huge choice ensure your message is received and clearlyshow appreciation for all of their efforts during of retailers in the widest network available on understood.the preceding year and help kick start the New the market today.Year.Capital BondsWith the recent addition of John Lewis stores, our market leadingmulti-store vouchers are now accepted at over 140 retailers (40 morethan any other multi-store voucher) and 20,000 outlets nationwide,including over 450 independent stores, making them the perfectmotivational reward for your top performers. Compliments Card A prepaid card that allows you to deliver rewards of a specific defined value to each of your recipients. The card is redeemable at over 110 retailers – 50 more than any other on the market today. Plus, branding your card offers a constant reminder of your caring side as an employer.Single StoreVouchers & CardsWith a choice of over 50 high street and online vouchers and giftcards to choose from, covering in excess of 350 retail brands, singlestore vouchers and gift cards provide the simplest reward option,allowing recipients to redeem in-store or online. Compliments Experiences With over 1,000 experiences and activities to choose from, Compliments Experiences is the perfect choice if you’re looking to reward your high performers with a once in a lifetime adventure, from track days to hot air ballooning or jumping out of a plane!
  10. 10. Compliments PassportTravel vouchers are ideal for motivation, incentive and promotionsschemes. Whether for employees, sales teams or customers, there’ssomething to appeal to everyone. You can offer a wide range ofholidays to some of the most popular destinations in the UK, Europeand worldwide to suit any budget. Compliments Select An online reward platform that lets you issue, and your recipients redeem, almost any kind of reward, of any value, to any recipient, in any location .Christmas Hampers& Luncheon VouchersTreat your recipients with our selection of traditional Christmashampers, which can be enhanced to include any of the products fromour range of gifts & reward cards. Alternatively, our Luncheon Vouchers,accepted at over 22,000 food & retail outlets can go towards theirChristmas food shopping or to wining and dining with family & friends. Employee Savings For the same price of a bottle of wine per head, you can reward your employees all year round! Our Employee Savings platform is fully customisable and offers the widest choice of savings, discounted vouchers, reloadable cards and cashback options. Our year-round communications support programme drives participation and keeps employees engaged.
  11. 11. Download ourinfographic guideto maximisingthe ROI from yourChristmas 2012rewards strategyInludes the 5 key steps to makingsure your christmas rewardsare fully appreciated by youremployeesVisit www.christmasrewards.co.uk
  12. 12. Visit www.christmasrewards.co.uk0843 453 4406sales@edenred.co.uk ISO 14001 BUREAU VERITAS Certification