Well, here I am again

Well, here I am again and I was going to write about the subject of Agency charges. However, as December drew ever nearer and I was still researching my formerly-planned blog subject, I found myself being lured by fairy lights and the perennial jingle bell soundtracks playing all around me into thoughts of Christmas. I then started to think about the huge financial outlay that awaits us all and how, in spite of the economic climate in which we find ourselves, there seems to be as much spending anticipated in the retail world as ever.

We know that a lot of markets (housing for instance) and businesses slow down at this time of year, while our department stores, supermarkets and gift shops are excitedly rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the biggest month of financial revenue of the year. Some stores will take up to 50% of their annual turnover. So what happens in the average office? Are people finding the motivation to keep going and work hard up until Christmas Eve or is December a huge cost to companies when business is slow, meetings are being booked for January rather than today or a few days hence and employees minds are elsewhere: Busy working out Christmas menus and shopping lists, dealing with emotional family politics and trying to keep everyone in their close circles happy – to the possible detriment of their jobs? So I started thinking…perhaps everyone should just take the last two weeks of December off, but that just isn’t viable is it? While there is a complicit understanding between business partners that things may not run to the usual slick time schedules, woe-betide anyone who dare to admit such a thing!
So, l then started thinking about staff motivation and I came across this article published in ‘Real Business – the Champion of UK Enterprise’ and written by Francis Goss, head of commercial operations, reward services, at Grass Roots, which specialises in marketing, research and HR services. She asks whether you are another institution with disillusioned employees after a year of pay cuts or freezes and gives some top tips to keep hold of your staff and ensure that they firstly want to come back to you in the New Year and, more importantly, do so motivated! Francis asserts that it should not be forgotten that incentives can also add to the bottom line by increasing sales, improving service or performance.
Please read her top tips (and a liberal interpretation of them) below:

  1. Get into the festive spirit: Christmas is an important time for rewarding both employees and customers for their ongoing loyalty. It provides an excellent opportunity to boost employee morale and maximise the feel-good factor as staff look forward to a well-earned holiday. Make sure your employees go into the break feeling good about the company, as it’s common for staff to consider job changes while they’re away from work.
  2. To be read as – wear Father Christmas outfit to work, provide mulled wine on tap and cocktail sausages and minced pies at every opportunity. Decorate offices with huge amounts of tat and play all the Christmas classics in the offices from noon onwards. (Ed)
  3. Thoughtful giving: While budgets still may not allow for pay increases, gifts can help boost morale. Remember: give staff something they want. Giving gifts that don’t appeal will be a waste of money, so think carefully about your employee demographic.
  4. To be read as – a minimum budget of £50 per employee should just about keep your staff happy. It will give you the opportunity to buy them something really decent. Make sure each employee gives you a wish-list so that you don’t disappoint with your choice of gift.(Ed)
  5. Avoid cash incentives: Cash incentives can be confused with salary and bonuses, and can become expected each year. Cash bonuses tend to disappear into employees’ pockets and the connection back to the workplace and a task well done is lost. Cash fails to generate a lasting memory in the way that a gift or experience can.

To be read as – a good alternative to cash would be crates of wine. Champagne and Christmas hampers.(Ed)

Select the right rewards: Retail gift vouchers can help employees reduce their overall expenditure at Christmas. Vouchers can also be especially cost-effective if bought in bulk. You could also consider non-cash incentives such as bespoke merchandise, events or experience vouchers.

To be read as – Argos and Boots vouchers will not cut the mustard. What your employees need to give them a boost in these tough times are vouchers for Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Harrods etc…(Ed)

‘Tis the season to be…. So, where was I? Oh yes. Another niche market who are looking forward to clinching deals in the next few weeks are of course the financial recruitment consultants in the city: A lot of their commission will come from disenchanted bankers who have not received the obscenely huge bonus that they were expecting and are therefore keen to hot-foot it to another bank with the lure of a bigger and better bonus for next Christmas. But that is not the world in which we inhabit and, it actually works in our favour. Keeping staff happy and motivated is much simpler and is down to the recruitment of the right people in the first place, people that ‘fit’ the company demographic and, most importantly, people with whom you, as their superior/senior, get on (perhaps not quite as extreme as the Apprentice but you get my drift!). The other fundamental is that you give your employees and clients a chance to voice their concerns and/or express their doubts about a particular product or strategy. Then comes a certain level of acceptance that you will always lose people – it is the nature of the beast. What you can work on is keeping the ones who want to work with you for as long as possible and keeping them happy and, by default, keeping you happy.

I don’t think I’ve really said anything enlightening this month, but perhaps that is the beauty of the Blog. I got it off my chest!

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