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Have Your Elf a Merry Little Christmas

How to recognise and reward your staff on a budget

2020 has been a year like no other. We have seen challenges and uncertainty a plenty and still nobody knows what the future holds. Here at Ashton People Solutions, we have seen the huge impact the effects of lockdowns and business closures have had on businesses and their owners.

We have worked closely with employers to help and advise through these times and we have reached out a supportive hand to employees who are dealing with the aftermath of redundancy. Throughout these experiences, we have learnt that some of the key things employees need, during times of uncertainty, are feelings of security, value and that they are needed.

With so much uncertainty around, ensuring that you recognise and reward your people for their hard work is key to motivation, productivity and remaining part of the larger team. Especially while businesses are coping with teams working largely from home amid COVID restrictions and local lockdowns.

Christmas is usually a time for employers to show gratitude and thanks to their employees, with the most common way being through a Christmas party, gifts or bonuses. But whilst we still live in the midst of a global pandemic and with some businesses having to tighten the purse strings, how can you still recognise and reward your staff?

Recognition and reward on a budget

Having a limited budget for employee recognition is a common challenge. Distinct from pay and benefits, reward and recognition has an important role to play in motivating and engaging staff. By properly recognising your employees’ achievements you can implement positive change in the workspace, reinforcing the culture and values of your company.

A study by Glassdoor found that 80% of employees would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss.

The good news is that it’s not just about money, and effective recognition doesn’t need to be costly. Here are some easy ways to acknowledge people which all employees will value and appreciate.

1. Say Thank You

One of the most genuine and effective ways to recognise and reward one of your employees is through the most basic form of communication, by saying ‘thank you!’. It doesn’t cost anything and it can touch the heart of an employee if done authentically and meaningfully. Acknowledgement goes a long way towards making people feel valued and in turn they will be more engaged and motivated.


2. Work-Related Awards

Another original way to recognise and reward team members is to offer them work-related awards. Some examples include:

  • An extra day’s holiday
  • Flexible working for a dedicated period
  • Giving additional responsibility on a particular project or task.

3. Learning and Development Awards

Learning and development opportunities are one of the most effective ways of supporting employees’ long-term engagement within the company.

This type of award may be particularly popular with a diverse and dispersed workforce, whereby each individual employee can benefit from their award in their own time. Employees may become increasingly grateful for the chance to upskill if there is any risk of impending redundancies or uncertainties of what the foreseeable future holds, as this can go a long way to help with future job security. More so, whilst investing in training may incur an initial spend, your business will ultimately benefit from the new skills that employees bring back into the company.


4. Virtual Team Activities

Most companies are reluctant to plan much in the way of a Christmas party this year, understandably. So, what are the alternative options?:

  • Christmas in a box: a physical home delivery with an interactive online experience, eg. cocktail making or a gingerbread decorating competition
  • Online quiz – whether you choose a festive theme, Who Wants to be a Millionaire style or musical bingo, there are plenty of choices. You can either take turns hosting rounds, or there are many events companies now offering to host virtual parties
  • Virtual escape room or virtual murder mystery; held over an online video conference platform such as Zoom, people can be split into teams to add an element of competition
  • At home scavenger hunt; get everyone together online, distribute a list of items to find and give everyone a limited amount of time to locate and show their items, or give a prompt such as “raid the fridge – grab the weirdest thing in your fridge. Weirdest item wins”
  • Celebrate a variety of holidays; invite team members to share their culture’s unique celebration with the rest of the team. Participants can explain the holiday’s significance to the others and prepare a special activity for the rest of the team
  • Secret Santa: no Christmas would be complete without Secret Santa! Pick a name, set a spending limit, invite colleagues and make sure everyone knows where gifts should be sent and by when and then enjoy unwrapping gifts online together.
  • Online class; working best for small companies, stream a class together and learn a new skill such as wreath-making, needle-felting a Christmas decoration or cooking

Remember, you employees are your company’s biggest asset, so nurturing and maintaining company-employee relationships are critical. Taking the time to acknowledge, appreciate and thank your staff will go a long way, no matter how you decide to do it.