Employee recognition isn’t just for Christmas

A Christmas Thank YouIt’s that time again when the thoughts of employers turn to how best to show their appreciation to their workforce for their efforts throughout the year. And for employees, the end of year bonus is usually a delightful thing to receive.

The Christmas bonus is a popular reward, and in many companies it’s become a tradition. The problem with the Christmas bonus becoming a tradition is that past practice may lead to an “expectation” from employees. This can lead to problems.

As the end of the year approaches, if you’ve always given out a bonus then your employees will always expect a bonus. But the tradition of a Christmas bonus can demotivate rather than motivate. Here’s how:


  • If the business is struggling and can’t give a bonus this year, or the bonus isn’t as big as last year then you and business will be labelled a scrooge.
  • Some employees will spend their bonus ahead of time in anticipation of getting the same as in previous years, so if you opt to give them retail vouchers instead of cash then it can be a problem.
  • For some employers the traditional bonus becomes a transaction with no thought to it: they’ve done their duty by giving employees a bonus, now it’s time for the employees to say thank you and then everyone can just get back to work.
  • Your employees will probably be glad they got a bonus, but only for as long as it takes for them to work out what they’ll do with it. Appreciation doesn’t last very long when it comes to expected bonuses, and often the cash is lost amongst other household expenses.


Employee recognition shouldn’t happen just once a year. It needs to be continual and timely if it’s actually going to have any impact on the motivation and employee engagement levels of your workforce.


Appreciate your employees and reap the rewards

Employee recognition at ChristmasA sincere thank you is one of the most motivating things an employee can hear. An on-going employee recognition scheme is a great way to increase motivation, improve performance levels and encourage loyalty to the company which can contribute to increased profits.

Setting up an employee recognition scheme that motivates and engages your employees is easy:


  1. Set clear, realistic and measurable objectives tied to your business goals
  2. Think about programme structure and design
  3. Provide the right rewards for your employees
  4. Trial your scheme with a department before launching it company-wide
  5. Promote your recognition scheme everywhere
  6. Continually manage and review your programme throughout the year
  7. After the launch keep communicating to your employees about your scheme
  8. Share your success


Survey after survey has demonstrated that properly set up employee recognition programmes have a proven ROI, as the SHRM /GLOBOFORCE Employee Recognition Survey Winter 2012 Report reports:

  • Productivity – 63% of respondents observed an increase in employee productivity as a result of the implementation of an employee recognition programme.
  • Employee retention – 51% of respondents observed an increase in employee retention as a result of their employee recognition programme.
  • Profit – 58% of respondents observed an increase in their ROI as a result of a recognition programme.
  • Customer retention – 52% of respondents observed an increase in customer retention as a result of their employee recognition programme.


There’s no doubt that Christmas is a great time to recognise the contribution your staff have made to the business, especially in companies that don’t have a formal reward system in place. However to develop loyal and motivated employees you need to recognise them throughout the year, not just when Santa comes to town!



See how other organisations run their recognition schemes

Recognition Video Case Studies

Aviva, Virgin Media and Siemens recognition videos 



John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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