It’s that time of the year coming up – Christmas. Some people dread it, others love it. It is, like most things, an opportunity though. It’s an opportunity to create something that leaves a lasting impression on those around you and by doing so creating a better future for yourself, because if your family, friends and employee appreciate what you do for them, they will return the favor. Rather than thinking of buying “just another corporate gift hamper”for your employees, it’s time to think about what gifts will serve as opportunities to motivate your staff further.
Believe it or not, parenting and running a business have a few things in common and if you are a parent you probably know that parenting is a lot about creating magical experiences for your children that make them enjoy being part of your family, as well as preparing them for becoming adults. You don’t just sit back and hope the kids will be alright – you are constantly trying to teach them things and bring joy to them. In return you are hoping they will love you and one day grow up to live happy lives themselves.
Often with children you also create “star sheets”or “rewards sheets”. Basically you put a sheet on the wall where everyday the kids get stars if they do well (i.e. do the things that will prepare them for becoming a great adult, like being nice and gentle with other kids, helping with chores, playing nicely, etc.). According to Alan E. Kazdin, the director of Yale’s Parenting Center, these rewards scheme together with praise work more effectively than any form of punishment. Rather than spending hours condemning bad behavior and talking about why bad behavior is bad, you focus on continuously asking for good behavior and rewarding it. Why? Kids thrive on love and appreciation. They naturally gravitate towards doing what you want them to do if they feel appreciated for doing it and their behavior is recognized. There have been many studies done around this and these studies clearly show this is the way to deal with children.
You might think this has nothing to do with running a business, but children grow up to be adults and the psychology of adults isn’t that much different – adults want to be recognized for their good work as well. It turns out that money is a poor motivator as far as employees are concerned – they need enough money to feel happy about life in general (i.e. not have financial stress), but beyond that money doesn’t seem to matter much when it comes to happiness at the workplace. According to the Harvard Business Review “[…] there is less than 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction levels. Furthermore, the correlation between pay and pay satisfaction was only marginally higher (r = .22 or 4.8% overlap), indicating that people’s satisfaction with their salary is mostly independent of their actual salary.”1 How’s that for thinking we are a materialistic society?
In fact, a survey done by the Harvard Business Review2 found that what employees ranked the most important was support for making progress, followed by recognition for success.
Also have a look at the below infographic from Business Insider.
So what does this really have to do with Christmas? Well, it’s the perfect time to spoil your employees with unexpected surprises. You can have a daily advent calendar with surprises in it, as well as hand out lovely personalized corporate gift hampers for Christmas. Make sure to have a think about it though – what experiences and gifts would make your employees happy? Is the yearly Christmas party really a fun occasion, or would it be better to organize a one day outing somewhere? What would bring your employees and experience they would cherish? Just like you want your kids to enjoy being part of your family, you want your employees to enjoy being part of your company.
As for Christmas gifts, make sure to really personalize them if possible. There’s nothing worse than for employees to feel like there was no thought whatsoever put into their gifts. If you have hundreds of employees chances are you can’t personalize each gift, but then focus on personalizing the gifts for top management and share your thoughts behind the gift chosen for everyone else. If you make an announcement about why you chose a certain corporate gift hamper for example, your employees will know you thought about them, which means you care about them. If you can also put in personal notes acknowledging people’s individual achievements. You can assign different managers in different departments that job and do it yourself for the top managers. That way each gift actually ends up personalized and it lends recognition to employees.
Have some employees really stood out this year? Present them with Christmas gifts in front of everyone. Really recognize their efforts.
Everything you do for your employees make a difference, so don’t be afraid to create a Christmas worth remembering at your company. It’s simple and it pays off, as motivated employees do a better job, earning you a higher profit.