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If you groaned at the sight of Christmas in September, you’re not alone. But whether it’s too soon or not soon enough, the holiday season is just around the corner. That means it’s time to start thinking about what we can do to celebrate and reward our employees for their hard work and loyalty, as well as support their financial wellbeing at a time when giving to others takes centre stage.

According to Trading Economics, the inflation rate dropped to 6% year-over-year, down from 7% in the year prior. This is affected by the slow-down of inflation in categories like food (7.5% vs. 8.0% in Q1 2023) and clothes (0.3% vs. 3.2%). However, it also reflects ongoing increases in categories like rent (6.7% vs. 4.9%), travel (12.2% vs. 17.1%) and insurance (14.2% vs. 8.8%). It’s no secret that Australians all over the country are struggling to absorb the extra costs in their budgets and reducing discretionary spending to accommodate the rise in their non-discretionary spending

Employers are increasingly looking to monetary rewards as a means to add additional impact to recognition.But as we approach the holiday season, that’s not where people like to go:

Normal retail behaviour shows the typical household spends around 30% more in December than any other month.

We want to be a little more frivolous with our spending around the holidays, to feel like we can put some money towards our celebrations without bankrupting January. 

In a recent UK webinar, we talked about strategies that HR leaders are using to support their workforce. We’re sharing the best ones with you, because great ideas should never be limited to one place.

Here are some suggestions we got from attendees on supporting general wellbeing:

Wellbeing advocates help support employees through peer-to-peer connections and communication.

Gabrielle B: We have wellbeing advocates who are available to support [employees]; they regularly run talks and events.

Financial wellbeing support is increasingly critical with cost of living continuing to climb.

Jenna W: We have a financial wellbeing plan for the full year, looking at will writing, promoting our cash plan, discounts (via Reward Gateway). The one which went down really well was our ‘planning to stop work’ workshops, which were essentially about saving for retirement, but we found renaming it meant that younger colleagues came along to the sessions, too.

Use lunch hours to provide wellbeing support to employees, whether through webinars or in-person presentations.Amanda H: We have wellbeing Wednesday at lunchtime every 2 weeks that focusses on so many topics: sleep, depression, prostate, cholesterol, etc. – these are [Microsoft] Teams calls where experts internally or externally deliver a presentation.

Holding raffles for goodies and rewards is a great way to engage employees and drum up excitement.

Amy T: [We have a] 12 days of Christmas celebration, a mixture of fun (raffle, Christmas jumper day, hot chocolate stand) and charity (writing letters to vulnerable people, shoebox appeal, homeless socks and chocolates).

We loved those specific ideas – and many others shared in the chat – but we also have some research that points to what employees most want, specifically financially. 

74% of Australian employees surveyed said their employer could do more to offset inflationary pressures. Outside of increasing pay, 47% of Astralian employees want access to a retail discounts platform. Secondarily, employees noted that their awareness of their benefits isn’t everything it could be. Additional answers included support for mental wellbeing, as well as more direct communication from leadership.

Benefits of a discounts platform

An effective employee discount program can really offset the challenges posed by the increasing cost of living by providing financial relief – giving staff exclusive access to discounts on everything from groceries, utilities and clothing to travel, DIY and days out with their family – you name it. If you can stretch your employees’ household budgets significantly, a discounts platform like the one Reward Gateway offers can be a great way to do that.

christmas-piggy-bank-minFrom an emotional and mental wellbeing perspective, it’s going to alleviate some of the financial pressures that they may be experiencing, as well. It has a really positive impact on retention and loyalty because employees are more likely to stay with an organisation that demonstrates it cares about their financial stability. But ultimately, it communicates a company’s commitment to supporting its workforce during these challenging times.

Salary, we know, is the most expensive way to give to your employees more money. And when you factor in all the payroll-associated costs (like insurance and pension) into every dollar that you give your people, giving an employee $10 can actually cost you more like $15 – whereas a well-used discounts platform can give the effects of a pay rise by helping to put money back into their pockets, but at a fraction of the cost. And discounts are also a benefit that tends to unify everyone – everyone needs to buy food and clothes, after all. So it has the ability to positively impact every single person within your organisation, regardless of their economic circumstances.

More ways to provide support

One of our attendees offered their ‘12 Days of Christmas’ program, where they host a giveaway each day leading up to Christmas. At Reward Gateway, we used our ‘12 Days of Christmas’ to highlight existing benefits we refreshed and to introduce a few new benefits to the package. Additional suggestions included Christmas sweater days or pajama days (not just for kids!), $50 grocery vouchers and an increased focus on recognition.

Free financial advice

Pointing to free money advice on external sites might seem really obvious, but when we are feeling strapped or stressed, we’re less likely to be resourceful. So if you offer an article about ways to save on one’s weekly shop, that itself can let people know you care. You can also set up classes with internal experts: Do you have a CFO or an HR business partner with a financial background? They can speak to people in live sessions about how to make use of the resources you already have.

Festive eCards are a great way to spread holiday cheer and recognize your employees for being awesome!Festive recognition moments

Although not a financial wellbeing benefit, the holiday season is a great time to remind your people that you care about them, not just their productivity. Work with your team to create around three holiday-themed eCards that employees and managers can send to each other to thank them for their time, effort and friendliness. 70% of Australian employees agree their work wellbeing would improve if they were simply thanked more for their hard work.

Our ethos? Never miss an opportunity to recognise a colleague or employee, because it always makes a difference.

Interested in seeing how a discounts platform could help your employees this festive season? Schedule a quick call with one of our friendly employee engagement experts and get started today.

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Alexandra Powell

Alexandra Powell, Director of Client Cultural Insights, not only knows American Sign Language, but uses it to secretly communicate with her husband and kids at parties. Alex is a highly experienced employee engagement consultant, trainer and speaker. For over 20 years she has helped HR and business leaders implement strategies that drive true culture change.

Director of Client Cultural Insights

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