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Making your staff feel appreciated is a key part of keeping them motivated and performing at their best for your company. The festive season offers great opportunities to say thank you to your employees for their hard work, and there are many ways you can do this.

staff feel appreciatedTo really make your staff feel appreciated and keep them motivated, it’s important to give them something they really want this Christmas. Recent research by online print company instantprint has revealed just how important this is to your employees.

In instantprint’s survey of UK workers, 94% said they wanted a gift or other show of thanks from their employer at Christmas to make them feel happy, valued and appreciated. The research also uncovered what workers want their employers to do for them during the festive period. Here are the most popular options.

  1. Give them gift vouchers

Gift vouchers were selected by those surveyed in the research as the best thing to receive from employers at Christmas. Almost one-third (29%) of people selected this as their favourite option.

Gift vouchers can be a great way to show appreciation for staff. They allow each individual to get something they will really value. Rather than giving the same item to every person, whether they’ll get use out of it or not, gift vouchers allow staff to pick something that is useful to their own circumstances, so you know that the money your company is spending will not be wasted.

You can now buy gift vouchers that are valid in a wide range of high street stores, so you can offer you employees even more opportunity to get something they’ll really enjoy this Christmas.

  1. Arrange early finishes for your staff

The festive period is all about spending time with friends, family and loved ones. It’s not surprising, then, that allowing early finishes at work ranks as the second most popular thing employers can do for their staff in the run up to Christmas.

Early finishes can make a big difference to your staff over the festive period. They can help employees finish off their last bit of Christmas shopping, get to their children’s school play on time, or simply allow them to get together with loved ones a bit quicker.

There are two ways you might manage early finishes in your business. First, you could allow employees to pick a day over the festive period to leave early, so they can make the most of the benefit. Set up a spreadsheet, similar to one for monitoring annual leave, and this will let you make sure you always have enough staff in the office to hold the fort, while others can get going to Christmas festivities.

Alternatively, you could choose a day for all your staff to finish early as Christmas approaches. As long as you give your clients and customers enough notice, it shouldn’t affect business continuity. Plus, if you pick Christmas Eve there’s a good chance you’ll find they’ll be clocking off early too.

  1. Lay on a free bar at the Christmas party

Christmas get togethers and parties are great for boosting staff morale. They get everyone together outside the office and help build and improve co-worker relationships.

One in five UK employees (20%) say that the cherry on top of their Christmas party would be a free bar provided by their company. A free bar will help your staff un-wind and have a good time. It’ll also show that you care about your staff’s happiness, even out of working hours.

Free bars sound expensive, and they can be if you commit to footing the bill for your entire company across the whole evening – but you don’t have to go this far. You could have a set hour where the bar is free or offer to get everyone’s first drink. If you want to make sure that everyone is getting fair and equal use out of the bar, consider distributing drinks tokens. If you give all your employees an even number of these, they can trade them for drinks throughout the evening.

  1. Get your staff a physical gift

One in ten (10%) UK workers wants to stay traditional this Christmas and receive a physical gift from their employer.

When done well, physical gifts can provide a long-lasting expression of your gratitude as they’ll be around longer than a free bar or early finish. If a gift is really going to make an employee feel valued, though, it needs to be something useful or desirable to your staff. Put serious thought into what you’ll be buying to ensure it’s a good investment. Consider talking to some of your staff to judge what would work best, note their habits, what they use and what they don’t. This should help you find something great to give your employees this Christmas.

Sometimes simple classics can be the best option here. A travel mug, for example, can be a great gift. It can be used on the move or in the office and most people will get a lot of use out of it. Something in this vein also offers a longevity.

A gift, like a travel mug, can have dual purpose for your business. Not only will it serve as a way to make your staff feel appreciated, but it can help increase brand awareness too. To achieve this, consider putting your company’s branding on physical gifts distributed to your staff. This will create team feeling, but also promote your business to anyone who sees your staff using the items.

  1. Make a charitable donation in your staff’s name

Christmas is a time of happiness and cheer, but it’s important to bear in mind those who are less fortunate than ourselves while we’re having fun.

With all the financial demands that come along with festive outings, gift-giving and getting Christmas dinner on the table, a lot of people struggle to give to charity during the holiday season. As the ideal Christmas gift, 7% of employees said they’d like their employer to make a donation in their name this year.

Giving to charity can not only make your staff feel good about themselves but might reflect well on your business as well. Research charities working near your business and consider donating to them, so you are investing in your local area. If you make this an annual Christmas gift, you can help build a reputation as a company that supports and serves your local community.

  1. Introduce Secret Santa schemes

Alongside offering an opportunity to make your staff feel appreciated, the festive season can also help build and cement working relationships in your teams. Organising a Christmas party is a big part of this, but you can also introduce and encourage Secret Santa schemes in departments across your company. Secret Santas can be a great way of encouraging stronger staff relationships whilst letting your employees have fun together at work.

Secret Santa is also a useful exercise to encourage people to get to know other members of their team. In order to find something for their Secret Santa, staff members will have to talk to the person they picked and find out their interests and hobbies. This can facilitate new friendships and conversations within your teams. If you really want to push staff, consider having a Secret Santa organised across departments so they can really branch out and meet new people.

Gifts given as part of a Secret Santa don’t have to be extravagant. Common price limits set are £5, £10 or £20. Try to choose an option for your company that means all staff are able to take part and are not put off by the amount they’ll have to splash out.

If any of your staff are struggling for inspiration in Secret Santa, instantprint’s research has also revealed a rough idea of what people do and do not want from their colleagues this Christmas.

The most popular choices of Secret Santa gift this year, as voted for by UK workers, are:

  1. Alcohol (38%)
  2. Chocolates (28%)
  3. Mugs (26%)
  4. Stationery (4%)
  5. Make up (4%)

The gifts people would least like to receive are:

  1. Socks (52%)
  2. Receiving nothing (26%)
  3. Soap (15%)
  4. Cheap wine (5%)
  5. Shower gel (3%)

Encourage Secret Santa in your company by sending reminder emails to you staff, and designating time for gift exchanges at work for those who wish to take part. Secret Santa schemes are a great way to get your office feeling festive and talking to each other, without needing much expenditure on your part. Christmas can be an expensive time of year for business as well, especially if you’re small or just starting up. This can be a great way of making your staff feel appreciated at Christmas, without spending money you might struggle to afford.

Implementing some of these suggestions in your company this Christmas should boost good feeling, staff loyalty and motivation – making them a great investment. Don’t limit yourself to just one of these options. Introduce as many as you can to really make the most of the festive period to make your staff feel appreciated.