By Claire West

The Christmas season is upon us and many companies will be looking for cost effective ways to incentivise and reward their staff. Iain McMath, managing director of Sodexo Motivation Solutions, one of the world’s largest motivation solutions providers, today announces ten ways to motivate employees during the festive season without breaking the bank.

1) Flexible working: Flexible working hours can be a great way to keep employees engaged with the company, especially during the Christmas period when staff may wish to leave early to spend time with family or attend Christmas drinks events. Being able to take care of children during their Christmas holidays or the ability to work from home can make all the difference in allowing employees to have a good work-life balance.

2) Company events: The Christmas period is no better excuse to hold a company party. Company get-togethers encourage team bonding and are great motivators. This could be as small as a glass of mulled wine in the office or as diverse as cultural outings to the pantomime!

3) Affordable non-cash incentives: Non-cash Christmas incentives can be significantly more affordable and more effective in motivating staff than simple cash rewards. Incentive scheme providers report that organisations spending the equivalent of just 3% of their annual salary budget on non-cash incentives see a more noticeable improvement in staff motivation than those spending 20% of their annual salary budget on cash bonuses.

4) Keep it exciting: A useful tip which is often overlooked is to change the incentives on offer frequently to keep them fresh and exciting and to run short term ‘one-off’ offers to encourage bursts of effort at critical times. A mince pie baking competition in the run up to Christmas could be that perfect little burst that could bring festive cheer to the office.

5) Set manageable targets: Employers should establish and manage targets. In order to sustain morale and increase productivity, targets must always be set at a level which is challenging, yet achievable.

6) Its all about timing: The greatest productivity is gained when the desired behaviour is rewarded immediately and unexpectedly rather than waiting for specific times such as the employee’s six month review.

7) Understand the different staff members: Employers should be aware that different employees will be motivated by different things. Whilst the older staff members might place childcare vouchers high on their wish lists, younger employees may well respond better to company nights out or retail vouchers for buying Christmas gifts.

8) Childcare vouchers: By running a childcare voucher scheme, employers save on Employer National Insurance Contributions and enable employees to save on tax too. Working parents aren’t the only people to benefit from childcare vouchers —employers can save up to £373 per employee per year on their employer NI contributions. Employees who save by using childcare vouchers may then have that extra money to spend on Christmas presents and family fun.

9) Listen to the staff: In order to motivate staff, employers need to be aware of the troubles and desires of their employees in order to respond to these. This can be done in company meetings when staff are allowed to voice their grievances, by using an anonymous survey or by simply having a feedback box.

10) Encourage a ‘feel-good’ factor: Company-wide charity initiatives can be a very effective way of promoting unity and motivation staff. Supporting a charity with associated events, be it running a marathon or helping out one day a month can give staff a great sense of achievement and common purpose, adding a feel-good factor to the day-to-day routine of the office. Christmas is, after all, the time for good deeds so why not get your staff involved with this too.