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What Do Employees Expect for End of Year Recognition?

Posted, by Deborah Merkin
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The holidays are upon us and for many employers it’s a reminder of how many of our corporate holiday traditions have changed. Holiday parties, cash bonuses and corporate gift programs seem like a pre-pandemic memory, rather than something employees expect to hear about this year. 

End of year recognition looks a lot different than it did a few years ago. Some companies are back in the office, some are permanently remote or largely dispersed and everyone is feeling the economic challenges of the moment. When considering end of year recognition, make it about employee engagement with something that will be memorable, personal and a true part of an employee retention strategy.

Rather than planning an expensive party or sending company SWAG that may not appeal to everyone, consider how the end of the year is an opportunity to evaluate what it takes to keep an employee on staff for the long term. These moments of employee recognition should be memorable and keep employees both motivated and engaged throughout the year.

What Do Employees Want?

When selecting rewards for end of year recognition it’s important to consider what employees really want. Are they looking for a pat on the back? Do they want validation that they went above and beyond? Or in this economic climate, reassurance that the company is in a stable position going into the new year?

Employee recognition, especially around the holidays, should strike the right tone with employees and meet the needs of your employee population. Put these end of year recognition opportunities and gift/award opportunities in the right context for your workforce. 

Considerations When Choosing an End of Year Award

As you plan end of year recognition for employees, think about what employee recognition and awards looks like at your organization throughout the rest of the year. At this time of year, recognition should often stand out from typical recognition events during the year but should carry the same tenets any recognition or reward should be personal and memorable.

In order for recognition to be effective, it has to be personal and memorable. Recognition needs to be executed in a way that is going to work best for each employee. If the plan is for public recognition among other employees, consider if the recipients would respond well to being the center of attention. If they don’t, a smaller setting should be considered for a more personal and comfortable experience.

When it comes to the material component of recognition, like corporate gifts, they also need to be personal and memorable for each employee. We’ve all gotten the gift baskets and company SWAG that come to every employee and do not take personal interests into account. By taking the time to give employees something they will actually use makes recognition more memorable and can often be the best awards to give. If you’re not sure how to personalize these types of gifts, our Engage2Reward Choice Card is a great option that allows employees to redeem online from over 250 different retailers for any eGift card of their choice. One size fits all doesn’t work- so make your end of year recognition as unique as your workforce.

4 Types of Recognition that Make Employees Feel Appreciated

Looking for unique recognition ideas for your employees? Diversifying recognition types and ideas can be a great way to reimagine traditional holiday gifting. Here are four unique ways you can make employees feel appreciated this holiday season.

  1. Unique experiences - Rather than considering a traditional holiday party consider unique employee experiences during the holiday season. These events could be done regionally for dispersed workforces, or by team for companies in central locations.
  2. Extra flexibility or time off - We all need a little extra flexibility around the holidays, offering employees, or even teams an extra day off on a rotating basis throughout December could be valuable to give employees more time with their families or to recharge.
  3. Personal gifts - If you’re going to go the material gift route, make sure it’s something personal and useful to each individual employee.
  4. Decentralized holiday gifting - Consider decentralizing holiday gifts at the end of the year and opt for gifting a few times a year at less traditional times. A great place to start might be Employee Appreciation Day which typically occurs in early March.

How To Measure the Success of Your Employee Rewards Program

When we talk about measuring employee reward and recognition programs, the first thing that may come to mind is cost. How much should you spend on each employee's reward? How do you calculate the appropriate budget for your organization? The next thing that comes to mind is often how can you measure this employee program? How do you know if your end of year recognition program “worked”? 

Budget is obviously individual to each organization; however, the budget should reflect the type of year the company had. It sets unrealistic expectations for employees to get an outsized holiday gift if the company had a mediocre year. Similarly, if your organization had a banner year, employee award budgets should reflect that. Bring your employees into that celebration!

End of year employee recognition programs are popular and often have come to be expected by employees, but as you plan your end of year program, consider the opportunity to motivate and engage employees throughout the year. Making employee recognition programmatic allows recognition to support a broader employee engagement and retention strategy. 

Source: Forbes.com

Topics: Employee Recognition, Employee Recognition & Appreciation

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