We are sledging straight into the festive season. Before you know it, you’ll be getting some well needed and deserved rest after a strange year. Although you have had to pivot and adapt to change this year, one thing that should be at the front of your mind is engaging and motivating your employees this winter.
The holidays are filled with joy, but they’re also filled with elevated stress levels for your employees. A study conducted in 2015 by Harvard Medical School associate professor Ellen Braaten, found 62% of workers described their stress levels as “very or somewhat” elevated during the holiday season. Only 10% reporting no stress.
The workers who took part in the study cited financial, family, work demands, and personal health habits (such as exercise) as some of the stressors. These stressors will be amplified this Christmas season with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in the Republic of Ireland returning to lockdown, and with regional lockdowns introduced across the UK.
75% of respondents said increased burnout due to pandemic stress. Now, more than ever, it is vital to engage and motivate your employees this Christmas.
Here are three tips on how you can engage your employees this winter:
1. Adapting your work Christmas party
Christmas is a crucial time for businesses, especially those in hospitality and retail. If you are thinking about having a work Christmas party for your employees, the first thing you need to think about is logistics.
Start by figuring out how many people you can legally have together for your Christmas party. You must stick to the government guidelines so you or your business does not incur any penalties or fines (plus, it could be a public relations disaster for your brand and business).
One way to have a safer Christmas party is to split your employees into bubbles of four to six people (if you’d like, you can let them choose their bubbles). If you end up splitting your employees into bubbles for your Christmas party, rotate the times they enter the selected venue your business has chosen to bring down the possibility of an employee contracting COVID-19, and spreading it.
Your Christmas party this year will also need a little more planning, so make sure you give your employees plenty of notice to when and where the Christmas party is on.
Here are some Christmas party ideas:
- Book private catering
- Plan games
- End of Year Awards
- Office Talent Show
Virtual Christmas party ideas:
- Virtual secret Santa
- Send hampers or packages to employees with food and drink so they can enjoy a virtual Christmas party through Zoom
2. Engage your employees with bonuses
Giving your employees a Christmas bonus is a great way to show your appreciation for their hard work throughout a tough year. In the Republic of Ireland, if you provide a cash bonus to your employees, the bonus is still seen as overtime, and is taxed accordingly.
In the UK, any cash given to employees as a Christmas bonus counts as earnings. As an employer, you will need to add the value to your employee’s other earnings, and you will have to deduct and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax and Class 1 National Insurance through payroll.
In the Republic of Ireland, you can give your employees a small benefit of up to €500 in value, tax-free, every year, as part of the Small Benefit Exemption Scheme. Remember, the benefit cannot be in cash, but it can be in the form of a voucher, so long as the voucher is purchased with company funds. If a bonus exceeds €500 it will be taxed.
Similarly, in the UK, ordering gift cards, like a One4All card. Determine the amount you want to give to your employee. The HMRC say that you don’t have to pay tax on benefits which have a value of £50 or less per employee. If you do give your employee a gift card as a reward, there is no paperwork; you do not need to pay tax or National Insurance or go through the process of declaring them to the HMRC.
Employee engagement is all about how leaders can create an environment for employees to offer more of their capabilities and potential. To create this type of environment, be sure to communicate your goals for the Christmas period and your plans for the future. Speaking about your goals aloud will give you a mental roadmap on where you want to go. In other words, you will be giving your employees certainty.
It may be difficult right now to be fully transparent with your goals because of the uncertainties presented by COVID-19. Where you can communicate your plans with your staff, do. Your employees will appreciate your for it.
Carly Pickering from the East London Pub Co. spoke to us on our Bizimply Business Insights series about giving “certainty” wherever she could for her staff during lockdown.
“There was never any secret agendas”, Pickering said with a smile in our webinar. Pickering and the East London Pub Co. were honest and communicated with staff in a positive manner that brought their employees back happier than ever.
“They couldn’t wait to get back in [to the bar] and to start pulling pints again.”
Winter can be a challenging time for your employees, with shorter days, and financial worries. But, if you create an environment where people feel respected and appreciated, this winter will forge a strong team ready for 2021.
While you’re here, be sure to check out Bizimply software. It can help you save time and money on your labour overheads this winter. Our software also gives you in-depth insights on your employee engagement that results in a motivated workforce. Book your free demo right here or sign up to our newsletter right here for more insights on workforce, operations and HR management.