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End of year recognition and reward

Alison Coleman

Alison Coleman looks at why the end of the year is a good time for business leaders and managers to recognise their team's achievements

It’s that time of year when, having gone the extra mile for their company, top performing employees can usually expect some form of recognition or reward from their boss as a token of appreciation, and from the company’s point of view, as an incentive to go another extra mile the following year. But what is the most impactful way for business leaders and managers to recognise their teams’ achievements?

John Cooper, CEO of business psychologists JCA Global, says: “Recognition comes in many forms, including verbal appreciation, praise, promotion as well as remuneration. Motivation is closely related to people’s expectations, so it is important that people are given realistic expectation to avoid disappointment and demotivation.”

In planning a reward strategy employers should be mindful of not dis-encouraging individuals who have performed less well, for example, avoiding a situation where everyone in the office receives an end of year bonus except for one person. The key here, says Cooper, is to reward for performance but show that you value everyone. “By demonstrating that you are a boss who cares about and supports an individual, even when they have underperformed you will gain their absolute loyalty,” he says.

Reward and recognition throughout the year 

Ideally, organisations should be recognising and rewarding their people throughout the year. However, many like to celebrate standout successes, like winning or completing a major contract, by tying it in with the festive celebrations, as it can be difficult to get all members of staff in one place at the same time at other times of the year.

Christmas is a key trading period for many companies and finishing the year on a high could mean the difference between targets being met or being missed. And for organisations that are not affected by the seasonal rush, it can be the ideal time to say thank you to staff for their hard work during the year.

At luxury hotel management firm Dorchester Collection, rather than holding just one big annual celebration, recognition of employee success goes on all year round.

Area director for Human Resources Sean Wheeler said: “Our team members are responsible for delivering a memorable experience to our guests, so recognising our people is critical for ensuring team engagement remains high, and that they are delivering the behaviours and attitudes we want across the organisation.”

Recognition is marked through a variety of events, including annual employee awards, long service recognition, and a monthly Celebration Tea hosted by the general manager and senior team. “Employees have the opportunity to receive gifts such as shopping vouchers and for our big awards, Team Member of the Year and Leader of the Pack, within each hotel, they could win a seven day trip to our LA hotels including flights, spending money and an additional five days holiday,” says Wheeler.

Leaders are also encouraged to identify and nominate employees doing something right for an instant recognition programme where smaller prizes, such as tickets for the London Eye, luxury chocolates or afternoon tea are awarded.

Village Resorts Hotels, on the other hand, likes to recognise the success of its staff in one high profile annual people awards celebration in early January. This has the effect of boosting employee morale after the busy peak Christmas and new year periods, while allowing the company to promote its high performance behaviours. People development director Mike Williams explains: “Managers are asked to nominate their employees based on how they have demonstrated our high performance behaviours and exceeded their department key performance indicator targets.” Judging day is filmed and turned into an engaging, themed video – this year it was based on the movie Reservoir Dogs – which is then used to announce the nominations and finalists. “So that everyone can find out how they did at the same time, we launch the video on the same day and time in every hotel before Christmas, which again boosts morale and engagement before the busy period,” said Williams.

To ensure that the buzz of the ceremony doesn’t end on the night, coverage, including lots of photos, is uploaded to the employee website, “This inspires those who weren’t nominated and gives them something to aim for over the coming months,” adds Williams. Other gestures of recognition and acknowledgement for hard working employees can be made by offering retail vouchers, which can be redeemed for gifts or food, or hampers. At this time of year, anything that eases the cost pressures of Christmas and help staff spread their budgets will be appreciated.

Personalised gifts for staff can make a big impression, but they should be thought through carefully. With a diverse mix of ages, cultures, and religions, to take into account, choosing gifts that are appropriate for everyone can be challenging. 


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