65% of Top UK Employers Reward Staff at Christmas

With the holiday season just round the corner, now is the perfect time to start considering how to reward staff over the Christmas period.


At M&S FOR BUSINESS we offer an array of solutions that could be used to incentivise employees during the holidays, but what solution is the most effective? With this in mind we undertook intensive research to understand how and why UK employers use reward schemes during the festive season to motivate their workforce.

We gathered opinions from some of the top UK firms’ directors and owners who have been awarded and recognised for putting their employees at the heart of their company; with the majority of respondent companies composed from the following lists:

  • Guardian’s Britain’s Top Employers
  • The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies
  • JobCrowd’s Top Companies
  • Great Places to Work Awards

We conducted research into how and why companies rewarded their staff over the festive period, along with asking for opinions on what impact these rewards have had on performance.

Rewarding staff at Christmas

Over 65% of the companies surveyed rewarded their staff at Christmas, which is often seen as the perfect opportunity to recognise the hard work and effort that has been put in by their employers throughout the year.

The fact that 35% of companies do not recognise staff efforts in any way annually could be seen as a surprising statistic.

Jo Barlow, from Moneypenny, the UK’s leading telephone answering system says; “We have been recognised as a Best Company to Work for three times and creating a happy environment is really important to us. We work hard all year round and make special efforts at different times to promote feel-good team activities, but we all know that Christmas is the time of year when we pull out the stops to top off, and celebrate all we have achieved during the year.“

Industry respondents

Out of the 100 companies surveyed, 23% of respondents came from advertising and marketing sector, 17% from retail, closely followed by the technology, IT and telecommunications industry who formed 15% of our survey.

Of these companies, 12% had 1-10 employees, 50% 11-50 employees, 15% 51-250 employees, 8% 251-500 employees and 15% with 500 or more employees.

Christmas corporate gifts

52% of the UK brands surveyed believed that they should spend under £50 on a Christmas gift for their employees, with 35% of businesses spending between £50-100 on their employee gifts.

The most popular gift given by a UK employer is a monetary bonus to staff closely followed by a gift card or voucher.

Andrew Johnson, the Director General of UKGCVA (UK Gift Card and Voucher Association) agrees that these forms of recognition are an effective solution to recognise your staff; “Gift cards and vouchers are a great way to thank staff for their efforts in the workplace and celebrate success. By taking a fresh and more personal approach to rewarding staff, businesses can improve staff loyalty and team motivation.”

At The Survey Initiative, company Director Gary Cattermole recognises that the season can be a difficult time financially so he also believes innovative and supportive workshops should be run as standard to help advise employers.

“Christmas incentive packages should incorporate workplace savings schemes and employee assistance programmes; offering anything from someone to listen to those with emotional issues to practical support for those in debt.”

Other unique and memorable incentives that have been received by employees over the festive season include;

  • Extra holiday allowance
  • Cash in hand
  • Stock options
  • Experience days
  • Trips abroad
  • Training courses to learn a new language.

Surprisingly though, there was nearly an equal split between those who would prefer a generic or personal gift from their employers over the holidays. With over 40% of those surveyed agreeing they would wish to receive a standardised reward over a personalised one. This shows that rewards do not necessarily have to be personal and thought-provoking, but a generic present can be equally as motivating as a gesture.

Andrew Johnson from UKGCVA agrees; “It is often hard to personalise staff gifts when there are a multitude of personalities in one office.

“Certainly a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates simply isn’t going to cut it for everyone! In this way gift cards and vouchers can be very beneficial as they can help managers pick the right type of gift, without being too prescriptive on the final result.”


Benefits of rewarding staff

There is an array of benefits to recognising staff over the Christmas holidays, with reward solutions helping to not only boost morale and spread good will, but also improve and strengthen employer and employee relationships.

Oren, the MD and founder of Kurve, a leading UK digital marketing agency, has found that offering staff rewards shows team members they are valued and that they are not merely desk fillers – and it appears he is not the only one.

Just under half of the UK businesses surveyed recognised that festive incentives helped to show staff that they were valued and their hard work throughout the year was appreciated.

Long term impact of staff rewards

When employers have been rewarded over the holiday period, nearly 50% of UK companies have seen an improvement in staff motivation and productivity levels when they have returned to work in the New Year.

This shows the true extent that rewards can have upon employee motivation levels, and can actually provide a company with more value than the actual cost of the reward itself.

Matt Chaplin and Lloyd Russell, company directors of Clear Energy Solutions both would highly recommend staff rewards, as not only does it help to improve immediate productivity but staff are motivated and strive to do better for the company they work for in the long term

Christmas hampers

UK businesses consider the most popular items to be included in a gift hamper as cheeses, confectionery and alcohol – especially a bottle of bubbles!

At M&S for business we offer an array of products suitable for the festive period, none more so than our Christmas hampers which are the perfect choice for all budgets and recipients.

However if you are unsure on what hamper will be best, our gift card is the perfect festive choice. This novel gift idea is preloaded with an amount of your choice allowing the recipient to choose the perfect celebratory gift – we are sure they will be spoilt for choice!