Posts

Your staff incentive scheme: What you wanted, and what you got instead

Your road to staff incentive scheme disappointment will be paved with the very best of intentions. That’s because the desire to provide incentives comes from a genuine place; you want to excite staff with rewards instead of crudely insisting employees work harder because they’ve been told to.

But, there’s a good chance you won’t get what you want from the scheme. It’s no reason to be downbeat, it happens a lot. What you expect to see from a scheme just isn’t always what it delivers. This article will jog you through what you wanted, what you got instead, and how you can improve in the future.

What you wanted, what you got instead, and what you can do about it

You wanted to see if your top performers could do more

You wanted to know if there was another level of performance that could be eked out of your biggest stars.

What you got instead

Even with new incentives on offer, the most prolific achievers in your company generally held the line. There wasn’t a measurable, sustained uptick in effort or achievement from your top guns.

What you could have done

Your big-shot staff aren’t likely to find another level of effort. They’re already your hard-chargers, they’re already obsessed with hitting their deadlines and targets. Personal pride and drive won’t permit them be anything else.

They’re also conditioned to expect any OTE and rewards you already dish out. You can’t rightfully withhold those rewards now and then ask for more effort to get them back. It’s a betrayal of your relationship, and more than likely will actually hurt morale. There’s no reason to mess your team’s biggest assets about for a marginal gain.

Rather than focus on core role KPIs and effort, focus on how they can improve the intangibles around the office. Measurable ideas like supporting lower-performing staff, finding efficiencies, getting clients to rely less on your customer support teams, running training for other staff in the company.

You wanted your lowest performers to start achieving

Every workplace has staff that are, at least outwardly, happy with below-average performance. You know they can do more, and you thought incentives would bring that out of them.

What you got instead

Nothing. Your lowest performing employees showed no reaction whatsoever to your staff incentive scheme.

What you could have done

To be blunt, what good is an incentive when an employee has no intention of doing any work beyond what’s required?

You could set the bar as high or as low as you like, it doesn’t make any difference to an actively disengaged, indifferent employee. Changing the behaviour of actively disengaged employees needs more than just the promise of an incentive.

You need to disassemble the reasons why they’re so uninterested in your business, then find a way to reignite passion for their work. After that, you can start thinking about how incentives will keep them energised.

You wanted average staff to turn it up a notch

Your plan was to introduce a system that incentivises the bulk of your staff to produce more outstanding performances, more often.

What you got instead

A mediocre uptake, with a fair few staff getting interested in the scheme. But, the effort didn’t sustain for any serious period. The vast majority became disengaged and dropped off.

What you could have done

Make sure an incentive scheme doesn’t get drowned out by your highest performers scooping up all the rewards. Your scheme needs to feel achievable, offer the chance to build towards bigger rewards, without getting drowned out by the top dogs in the department.

Which brings us to an important point.

The battle of the bulge is a battle worth fighting

Ultimately, middle performers are where you should be focusing the bulk of your incentive efforts. The top workers produce the numbers without your instruction, and the bottom need a different remedy entirely. Your middle achievers make up most of your staff, but they’re the easiest group to forget about because they chug along happily, achieving their targets.

One of the biggest problems with intensely KPI-focused incentive schemes is that the thresholds and rewards can be hoovered up too quickly by your top performers. On one hand, it’s great that your top performers are doing so well. On the other hand, your middle performers can feel alienated and disinterested in those incentives.

An incentive scheme needs to continually provide an opportunity to be rewarded for excellence, while still working toward larger, tantalising, rewards. When rewards are too frequent, they become a blur. When they’re too sparse, they feel unachievable.

Think of incentives like a ladder. Looking up at a ladder, it’s impossible to just reach up and grab the top rung. You have to climb one rung at a time. Even worse though, the very top of the ladder can never be reached if the same two or three people are always up there already. If you don’t think you can reach the top, you’re not likely to even start climbing.

Use achievable, repeatable milestones. Employ a mix of core KPIs and less tangible workplace improvements. And, crucially, make sure you structure them to furnish all your staff with the chance to be rewarded for excellence.

Corporate rewards don't have to be high tech

11 low and no budget corporate rewards you can implement in less than a week

Secret Santa makes Christmas gifts for employees more fun

£15 or less: Secret Santa Christmas gifts for employees

Christmas gifts for employees that won’t get re-gifted or binned – 25 great ideas and 5 really bad ones

It’s time to think about Christmas gifts for employees, because Christmas will be here before you know it. Whether you’re counting sleeps until the 25th, or trying to figure out what to do, it’s coming all the same. And with Christmas comes the expectation you’ll organise some Christmas gifts for employees.

So, just for you, we’ve got 25 great staff Christmas gift ideas that won’t find their way to the bin or end up re-gifted to someone’s least favourite cousin. And, for a special treat, five really bad ideas you need to avoid at all costs.

 

1. Gift vouchers

Love2shop Vouchers make great christmas gifts for employees

Simple and easy to combine with a thank-you note, vouchers are can be unfairly called a ‘lazy’ option. But the reality is that the only laziness is in presentation.

Put some effort in and make a fanfare of the occasion. Give your staff a few ideas on how they can use them, drive home the excitement, and make a fuss of all the choice the vouchers offer.

 

2. Gift cards

Love2shop Gift Cards are exciting christmas presents for staffGift cards function almost exactly like a voucher, but with some key advantages.

You can get them branded to your company’s look so they’ll be more effective at generating gratitude. They also often come with an online option. That could be direct online spending, or an online exchange to trade the funds for another selection of gifts.

 

3. Wine tasting at home

For plenty of our staff, a bottle of wine over Zoom with friends and family has become a weekly staple. One way to keep it fresh is to try some new wines (or beers!) together. Companies like Laithwaites and Virgin Wines offer at-home delivery services that make it possible to sort out some casual wine-tasting at home.

 

4. A big night in

With so many of us making the most of the great indoors since lockdown, we’re noticing a few more charges from Just Eat and Uber Eats on the monthly bank statement. A family-sized voucher or gift card for a home delivery service gives your staff one big guilt-free night in.

 

5. Friday night bingo, or a quiz

Normally you’d have a big Christmas party at the end of the year, but as we know now, that’s off the table. Most of the clients we’re talking to are cancelling their Christmas do, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a little event. It won’t be the same as a big do, but a big end-of-year company quiz with some big prizes would be just the thing. Get everyone together, have some fun, and take the chance to thank everyone for their work through the year.

 

6. Active gifts

Something for the lockdown fitness promise that became a New Year’s Resolution. Whether it’s a new bike, running gear, or yoga equipment, there’s plenty out there for the people trying to make a change in 2021. There’s no better way to give them a head start on their goals than gifting them a leg-up with the right gear. Halfords and Sports Direct make it easy for someone pick up gear for cycling, running, football and more at reasonable prices.

 

7. Wholesaler memberships

A membership to a wholesaler like Costco could save staff an enormous amount of money on bulk household items. Litres of toothpaste isn’t exactly a ‘Christmas-y’ thought, but your employees with families will be grateful. Especially during the winter seasons when they’re entertaining a houseful of guests. They make helpful and well received christmas gifts for employees.

 

8. Special coffee or tea mugs

The UK drinks more than 60 billion cups of tea every year. That’s more than enough cause to know special mugs make a great gift.

 

9. Digital reward codes

Reward codes are sent over sms or email, then redeemed online. They make more sense than gift cards or vouchers for more “online” staff.

To give them a more personal touch, spruce the delivery up with personal messages of appreciation.

 

10. Flexibility

The Christmas period is hectic, and with so much uncertainty this year that’s not going to change. The cash might not be there to fork out for a load of gifts for staff, but just being flexible with hours during the festive period could be as welcome as a fancy bottle of wine.

 

11. Tote bags

Cool tote bags are great Christmas presents for staff and stay useful all year roundWe all want to make less waste, but that means lugging more containers about with us.

Rucksacks aren’t always a chic choice, but totes are. A quality sustainable fibre tote is a great gift for someone sick of dragging a tatty Bag for Life around.

 

12. Great books

Books are often a byword for boring gifts. But that’s because they’re often just the latest vapid celebrity biography, or a tenuous link to a hobby.

Put some time and thought into a good book and it will be a fantastic gift. it shows not just that you’ve thought about someone, but that you actually know them well enough to pick them out a great book.

 

13. Luxury gift cards

We have already mentioned gift cards. But special gift cards for high-end shops like M&S or John Lewis are different.

Even the most dour employee can find something delightful with a luxury gift card. Only being able to get something luxurious makes them great Christmas gifts for employees.

 

14. Recognition

For some employees, offering your heartfelt thanks would go much further than any cash-value item. Knowing their efforts are valued and noticed as they head into a Christmas break does as much for morale as rewards might.

 

15. DIY vouchers

Spending more time at home means spending more time with those little jobs we never quite get around to doing. Things that you used to be able to ignore, but now you’re looking at them all day you can’t get them out of your head.

That door that doesn’t close quite right, that broken fence panel, or that patch of unpainted plaster slowly driving you crazy. Gifting vouchers or gift cards to places like B&Q, Homesense, Wickes is just the thing to help them get those little jobs sorted out over their Christmas break.

 

16. Donation to a charity

You really need to know the room before making a call like this. People might feel let down, or maybe even a bit patronised.

But if you look at the office and can’t imagine what to get for your socially-conscious millennials, a donation works. As long as it speaks to a cause they’re invested in – which means knowing them well enough to make the call.

 

17. Custom print cushions, pillows or luggage

Submit someone’s picture, or maybe a picture of their pet, and it becomes a print of the item. That could be pillows or cushions.

But the best is luggage – there’s no debating who a suitcase belongs to when your face is all over it.

 

18. Wireless shower speakers

Ideal for anyone that really can’t go a minute without a bit of stimulation. Not even for the duration of a shower. Also ideal for an employee that likes a long soak in the bath with a good podcast.

 

19. Pocket-friendly powerbanks

Always running out of charge is annoying, but so is carrying around a giant power bar all day.

A pocket-friendly power pack helps your electrically-challenged employees stay online. Without taking an unwieldly battery everywhere.

 

20. Multi-tools for outdoorsy types

Our outdoors types love a multi-tool. Especially the specialised ones for cyclists, climbers, woodsmen and more.

Depending on what your staff get up to in the outdoors, there’s a quality multi-tool out there.

 

21. Slippers for indoorsy types

Our indoors types, by contrast, love a good pair of comfortable slippers. Everyone loves a really comfortable pair of slippers for those cold nights in.

 

22. Infusion water bottles

Supplying staff with their own refillable, non-toxic bottles benefits you and your staff. They cut down on waste, saving money on disposable cups, and they help staff stay hydrated during the work day. Infusion bottles also let staff stick a bit of citrus fruit of a tea bag in for a healthy flavoured drink.

 

23. Speciality coffees

Caffeine is an essential office supply. A specialty coffee selection is a great gift for anyone that always says “yes” when the barista offers them the special blend.

 

24. Streaming services

Not unlike the Just Eat and Deliveroo charges piling up, the standing orders for streaming services are adding up as well. It would be a nice gesture to help keep your staff entertained while they’re at home.

 

25. Adult learning classes

For someone that’s always wanted to speak Spanish. Or wishes they knew how to paint with oils or create pottery.

They’re fun and personal. And they let your staff do something personally fulfilling and enriching outside their work.

[Edit this to include that there’s loads of time at home now]

 

Five Christmas gifts for employees to avoid at all costs

It’s the thought that counts, unless you’re thinking about really bad gift ideas. Or even worse, if you don’t think about someone at all. Steer clear of this stuff if you want good Christmas gifts.

 

1. Being forgotten

Forgetting to buy some employees gifts is a miniature morale crisis. That goes double if they’re remote or mobile. They’ll already have their guard up about not being in the office, and being forgotten amplifies that feeling.

 

2. Cash

Old reliable, and reliably boring. No one hates having more money, but cash doesn’t make a great Christmas gift for employees. Especially in companies where year-end bonuses are the norm for performance targets among sales teams.

 

3. Cheap and boring food and drink

Anyone can walk into a supermarket and buy themselves a bar of Dairy Milk. It’s not interesting, thoughtful or special. If you’re so out of ideas you’re thinking about buying someone a Toblerone, just get them a decent gift card.

 

4. Gag gifts

Sometimes they work, but it’s best avoided unless you really know them. That goes double if you’re the boss. Remember that as an employer that you’re “punching down.” You’re in a position of authority or power over your staff, and what seems harmless to you can come off as a dig on someone’s work, or their position in the company.

 

5. Self-help books

The Secret and Rich Dad, Poor Dad might have completely turned your life around. but don’t try to pressure other people into “improving” themselves. It’s incredibly patronising and not exactly exciting at Christmas.

 

Four simple guidelines on Christmas gifts for employees

Keep a few ideas in mind when you’re looking to gift to stay on the safe side.

1. Be fair

It’s a gift, not a bonus. No one should feel hard done by when you save the lion’s share of your gift budget for the best performers.

 

2. Be consistent

Pick a price range you’re confident you can stick to next year too. A big blowout one year and little the next isn’t great for internal credibility, and it gives off uncomfortable boom/bust vibes.

 

3. No company logos

We love employee engagement but we don’t want to see staff turned into walking billboards for their company. Let your employees enjoy their gift without having to sport the corporate logo everywhere they go.

 

4. Keep HMRC happy

Keep in mind the value of what you gift is subject to tax regulations. Especially if the cash-value of your gifts adds up to more than £50 per employee over the year.

Talk to your finance people and make sure you keep everything square with the tax man when gifting.

 

Remember: There’s no need to stress about it

If you’re stressing about it, let me stop you right there. Just get the basics right. Put the effort in, try your best to anticipate the tastes of your employees, and act in earnest gratitude. Hit those notes and you’ll be just fine.

And if you’re still not sure, get in touch with us. We’d be happy to talk you through a few options.

Or read about the Christmas gift options available through Appreciate here.

long service awards your employees actually want

Forget the carriage clocks: Long service awards gifts your employees actually want

Many companies don’t have an effective long service awards programme. If they even have one at all.

A lot of long service schemes focus on years of service that don’t even feel achievable for new staff. 10, 20 years of service.

And the rewards for long tenure are often underwhelming for employees that do last decades with the same company.

At the same time, employees still expect to see recognition, and earlier than you think.

Most employees anticipate some recognition for long service after just one year of service.

Knowing you need to recognise staff for long service is one thing. Knowing what works as long service award is something else though.

Employees are individuals. They have broad interests and varied personalities. Employers often find themselves at a loss when it comes to finding loyal service awards that actually work.

Instead of trying to find a single catch-all item which you can deploy for any employee, focus on variety and flexibility. Give your staff the chance to choose.

10 GIFT IDEAS FOR LONG SERVICE AWARDS

1. Experiences

Experiences are a thrilling way to celebrate long serving employees. This could include VIP sporting events, supercar experiences, spa days, skydiving or animal encounters.

2. Merchandise

Merchandise is a big tent. It could include your own products, bicycles, tech, hampers, wine, or watches.

The tricky part of choosing to reward with merchandise is getting the item exactly right.

For an effective long service award, you’ll need to have an intimate knowledge of what an employee is interested in. And know what items in that niche would be valuable to them.

3. Letter of thanks

letters of thanks make great long service awardsA letter of appreciation from senior management makes it clear to an employee that their service is noted, welcome, and valued.

While verbal recognition of their longevity in service is important, a physical token can be cherished. It serves as a continual reminder of the employee’s value.

4. Gift vouchers

Paper vouchers remain a massively popular item for our business clients for almost any reward and gift. Easy to buy, easy to give, easy for your staff to understand.

However, their effectiveness as business rewards can dwindle in some situations. When you’re measuring loyalty in decades, there are better options.

5. Gift cards

Gift cardsLove2shop Gift Cards have the advantage of functioning like vouchers without worrying about keeping a massive physical stock of paper.

They offer greater flexibility over vouchers in presentation, and in the amounts you want to reward.

6. Digital reward codes

Digital reward codes are simple and flexible.

While you’re trading off a small amount of the tangibility of vouchers and cards, the choice available is unmatched by other options.

Codes make it simple to issue long service awards to remote workers, or international workers. And you always have the option to back it up with a letter, verbal recognition or a certificate.

7. Cash

It’s natural for staff to ask for cash, and it makes gifts easy, but be wary.

Cash is taxed, and doesn’t feel as prized or special as compared to non-cash gifts. Cash is subject to all the same anxieties and stresses as monthly pay, unlike a special one-off gift.

We always recommend staying with non-cash long service awards.

8. Certificates or plaques

A certificate or award is a good physical token of the value of an employee’s longevity.

Whether they stay in the office or go on the mantelpiece, they’re a constant reminder of the company’s positive attitude towards the employee.

9. Travel

Travel is a great way to reward your valuable and loyal employees for long service.

Send your employee off for a weekend city break or a tranquil country retreat they’ve been thinking about for years.

10. Time off

A sabbatical is a great way to reward your longest-serving employees.

It gives them a chance to take a step back, recharge, and even work on some personal projects.

Alternatively, you could offer your tenured employee the chance to work on an deploying an internal project. Something that would be useful and effective but you struggle to find the time to develop.

Over to you

If your head is swimming, it kind of should be. Maintaining a huge catalogue of long service awards is no fun.

Instead of trying yourself, outsource it. Either let someone else manage a reward catalogue, or buy multi-retailer products so your staff can choose for themselves.