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Start planning end-of-year programs now to generate the best results

Firms need to begin considering their employee incentive programs now to ensure they are ready to go during the holiday season.

Strong sales during the winter holidays can contribute to a positive annual report that attracts new investors. However, if transactions are lacking and a business misses projected earnings, share prices may drop. This makes it essential that companies take all of the necessary steps to exceed their end-of-the-year performance goals.

Employee Benefits stated that firms need to begin considering their employee incentive programs now to ensure they are ready to go during the holiday season. Successful initiatives have a number of factors to consider, including when is the best time to implement the program.

Companies looking to meet specific objectives by the end of the year have a few options for how to structure their incentive programs. Short contests could provide a spark of energy to staff members at the right time, helping them to finish the year strong. These types of initiatives are particularly effective if they have been incorporated into a long-term engagement strategy used throughout the year.

The source noted that the timing of an initiative can also have a large influence on its results. By starting early in the season,  firms can take advantage of the entire shopping season to increase revenue. However, extending contests into January could also be beneficial. 

"A reward or piece of recognition can provide an immediate boost to morale as well as focusing staff on targets and activity for the year ahead," Martin Alden, head of B2B and partnerships at Wickes, told the source. "It can help to boost engagement in the face of January blues and, depending on the reward, ease the post-Christmas squeeze on spending."

Rewards can influence program results
In addition to the timing of employee reward programs, businesses need to consider what incentives are offered. Rewards should be tailored to staff members' preference in order to increase participation and morale. Burbank.com reported that travel packages are popular rewards during the holidays. Closing the year with a strong performance could earn employees free vacations that reduce stress and increase engagement throughout the year.

Companies are finding that it pays to avoid cash bonuses or gift cards. Merchandise or trophy rewards provide reminder of recognition workers received each time they are used. Kuljit Kaur, head of business development at P&MM Employee Benefits, told Employee Benefits that offering unique experiences is often better for engagement strategies than gift cards.

"An event and experience [voucher] is very much above and beyond recognition products because it can't be spent on everyday necessities that get lost [in employees' memories]. An event or experience is going to stick in their mind for a lot longer," he said.

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