Many companies will offer employee benefits in various forms — whether that be private medical insurance, discounted childcare, salary sacrifice schemes to cover travel costs or flexible working hours.

But what about end-of-year perks?

Keeping employees motivated and engaged is essential to maintaining high levels of productivity. However, as the year draws to a close and the holidays come into sight, it can be difficult to cling onto and harness that final ounce of motivation.

So, what can you offer your employees to keep them engaged and ready to kick off the new year with a bang?

Time to show your appreciation

Whilst we’re sure every employer would love to give all their staff members a pay rise at the end of every year, this simply isn’t feasible. Times are especially tough this year, and many companies won’t be able to commit to maintaining these extra outlays every month.

Luckily, there are plenty of other (more manageable) ways you can show your appreciation. Research shows that a monetary gift, such as a voucher or a bonus, is actually the top gift employees would like to receive from their employer at Christmas.

Some countries — including Spain, Austria and Greece — require 13th-month and even 14th-month bonus payments. Month 14 is usually paid out in December. But unless required by law, it’s down to the company’s discretion to give a year-end bonus.

Bonuses are an excellent incentive and ‘thank you’ for a job well done; however, it’s essential to ensure they’re dished out fairly to stop any Grinch-like grumblings from employees. For example, you could give all employees the same type of bonus, such as a week’s wages, or base bonuses on performance — just make sure all employees understand how this works. It’s also common for bonuses to be paid out based on how long an employee has been with the company.

Although cash is often the main way of awarding bonuses, you could also give out physical gifts (which are less likely to be taxed) or additional paid holiday around the festive period if it’s a quieter time of year for your industry. And who doesn’t love a surprise early finish leading up to Christmas?! Just be aware of public holidays in different countries — the 24th is already a non-working day in the Nordic countries, so it’s no good telling your Scandi staff members they can finish early Christmas Eve!

Doing things a little differently 

This year, things are also a little different. And many of the perks employers usually hand out around the festive period are a no-go.

Letting staff ‘dress down’ for December? Pretty pointless given many of them have probably been wearing pyjamas since March (at least on their bottom halves). And COVID has already got one up on you and given them the gift of remote working. Don’t you just hate it when people steal your present ideas?

Then there’s also the issue of jolly team outings and the long-awaited Christmas party — both of which are excellent opportunities for employees to bond and let loose. Sadly, it looks like the only kind of Christmas party many of us will be having this year is a virtual one.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still make it special! Why not conduct a quiz night, virtual wine tasting, escape room, murder mystery or secret Santa gift swap? Or arrange for Christmas hampers to be delivered with bottles of bubbly, candied nuts, gourmet cheeses and other festive treats? Just make sure you’re aware of any dietary requirements or cultural issues that may affect this!

You may also want to consider letting employees carry over some holiday allowance into 2021. Between redundancies and furlough, it’s been difficult for many people to take a proper holiday this year, so giving them a bit more flexibility could be just the Christmas gift they’d wished for.

A few things to keep in mind

While we hate to dampen the festive cheer, as with any type of benefit, it’s important to consider the potential business implications.

Do you need to declare bonuses? Depending on where you operate, some physical gifts may also be subject to a tax. For example, if you gave free tickets to staff working in Australia, you would have to pay to an additional Fringe Benefit Tax. Equally, if you’re treating employees in countries like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, you’ll want to give any alcohol-related gifts a miss!

And remember, while it’s always a nice gesture to give staff an end-of-year perk, employee benefits aren’t just for Christmas. Especially if you want to attract the best talent and earn their loyalty…

Need help managing your employee benefits at this festive time and in the new year? Then don’t worry — a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) can take care of it. Contact PEO Worldwide today to learn more about our international employment services.