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Reward staff on a budget this Christmas

We all know that the festive season can be an expensive time for everyone. Presents, food, parties and travel all contribute to the making the run up to Christmas very costly, for businesses as well as consumers.

While you may think that many firms are set to benefit from the consumer upswing around the festive season, the latest research from promotional goods firm Stay Sourced suggests that businesses  are continuing to feel the pinch with only 22% of businesses surveyed buying their employees a Christmas gift and 62% of companies admitting to not having a Christmas party in recent years.

In recent times the Christmas party has been one of the major causalities of small business cost cuts, however allowing your staff to celebrate can be a good way of rewarding them for their hard work throughout the year.

Rewarding your staff does not have to cost a fortune but can speak volumes and go a long way to boosting staff morale and thanking them for their hard work. The benefits of an annual get-together cannot be ignored either. They encourage communication, motivate staff and reward them at a time when other perks, such as pay rises and bonuses, just aren't an option.

Here are ten cost-effective ideas to reward your staff and help boost morale at Christmas this year.

Ask your staff

If you've had to cut the Christmas party budget, explain this to your staff at the earliest possible opportunity, most of them will understand that times are tough for small businesses. Also ask them for ideas of what they'd like to do that don't cost much money. Most people will be impressed that you've even asked. Once you have a few good ideas, put them to a vote.

Host a low key event

Your Christmas party doesn't have to be an expensive affair with a three course meal and a free bar. Nor do you have to rent out a venue, if you have the space to do it in your own premises and it is an appropriate venue. Host an informal get together with a few nibbles and invite staff to bring along some food and refreshments.

Make your own entertainment

For free entertainment that gets everyone talking, you could hold a festive quiz and donate a present as the prize for the winner. Be creative with the budget you have and – most importantly – have fun!

Go for lunch

Who says that the Christmas get-together has to be in the evening? Rather than the Christmas party and an evening meal, you could take staff out for lunch at a local pub or restaurant. It's cheaper than a traditional party, but your staff will still get a treat.

Look for a last minute deal

If you want to take your staff out for a meal or drinks, be sure to look for the best price. You can use group deal websites to source big discounts for staff nights out.

Say thanks

Sometimes, showing staff that you recognise their hard work can mean more than any gift or monetary bonus. Take the time to go round your place of work and talk to every member of staff. Talk to them about their plans for the holidays (remember they may not all be celebrating Christmas) and thank them personally for their hard work.

Recognise exceptional work

Make people feel valued by giving awards for exceptional work in your organisation, for example, the person who's made the most sales or the most punctual time keeper.

Secret Santa

Arrange – or allow staff to arrange – a Secret Santa, where participants each buy a present for one other member of staff. This means employees can get into the festive spirit without spending a fortune.

Wind down

If it won't affect productivity too much, you could allow staff to go home a couple of hours early on the last day before the Christmas holidays, especially if this time would usually have been taken up by the Christmas party.

Deck the halls

Allow staff to get into the festive spirit by decorating the office with Christmas decorations. These don't have to be provided by you – unless you're feeling generous – but you could invite people to bring their own in.

Whether you're hosting your own Christmas party, or seeing the year out in style somewhere away from the workplace, read our top Christmas tips for small businesses to make sure you stay on the right side of employment law.

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