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Staff Xmas Incentives: Are you playing good or bad Santa?

Written by: on  November 24, 2010

T’is the season to say thank you but are you playing good or bad Santa?

Most organisations recognise that the festive season provides an ideal opportunity to recognise the hard work of their staff and say thank you.  Thus promoting a warm fuzzy feeling towards the organisation and hopefully increasing their feelings of engagement and commitment for the forthcoming new year. So far, so enviable.

However, as a collective at Enviable Workplace, we have come across a few corkers in our time that have actually done more harm to morale than good, and so naming no names, here are 3 examples of how NOT to motivate your teams this xmas:

1: A company in advance of making mass redundancies, sent a well-intentioned xmas hamper to all staff with a message along the lines of ‘thank you for your effort in our continuing success, we look forward to sharing this with you next year’. However, some hampers were delayed in the post and for some, were received the very next day after their redundancy notification. To be enviable, ensure your morale booster has some emotional intelligence behind it


2: A new manager decided to treat all her staff to a £5 cinema voucher each, with an accompanying handwritten card containing a thoughtful, personal message to each team member…including the team admin manager. This whole task got dumped onto the same said admin manager last thing on a Friday. Had to be done over the weekend, including writing her own motivational, caring and personal message from her new boss to herself. Needless to say, the team recognised her handwriting, and viewed the whole thing as a sham. It is also virtually impossible to see a film for a fiver, so barely anyone redeemed the voucher as it would have cost money to go. To be enviable, if you have to delegate the task of motivating your team, ensure whoever helps you gets a surprise thank you too


3: Lastly, the boss who enforced everyone to be in the office up until 4:30pm on xmas eve (or face disciplinary action) but took the afternoon off himself for a ‘meeting’ but was seen cramming Argos bags into the boot of his car in the car park by the staff looking out the window. The motivator? Knock-off half hour early and unlimited mince pies (past sell-by date). Needless to say, the retention levels in the organisation were not great and the vicarious message about how to treat people was being sent loud and clear. To be enviable, treat your staff as you would want them to treat your customers

5 enviable tips for motivating your staff over xmas

1.   The smallest gestures mean more than the grandest intentions, put a little thought into individual preferences

2.  If there have been stringent cutbacks in salaries/jobs/projects etc, now is not the time to blow it on parading extravagant gifts for the few that will disengage the many

3.   Time off (if appropriate) can be great motivator, for xmas shopping etc, so it needn’t cost cash

4.   Incentives that help increase someone’s ‘personal brand’ (see previous blog articles) is a great way to boost morale e.g. vouchers for a flash suit

5.    Fun in the run-up to xmas that focuses on 2010 successes is key to beating the January 2011 blues come Tues 4th…a half-hour team meeting on the last day, that focuses on Jan-March exciting plans, could make all the difference with morale upon return

And lastly, try to avoid the HR grievance nightmare that one organisation experienced when a (particularly hostile) team member, unwrapped her Secret Santa present in front of the whole dept, and revealed it contained the bestseller ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’.

Enjoy the season!



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