The hectic winter holiday season is the time to show off a well-thought-out reward strategy that helps yourworkforce stay motivated and focused.

"Holiday rewards aren' t just a good way to express gratitude, they are also good management strategies," saysAlex Hiam, author of Streetwise Motivating & Rewarding Employees: New and Better Ways to Inspire YourPeople (Adams Media Corp.).

Among Hiam' s suggestions:

  • Give a day off to do charitable work.
  • Give the gift of understanding. Since employees need a holiday break, why not encourage managers to take their place for an hour or a day? Besides being a nice gesture, it will give the managers a clearer understanding of their employees' jobs, so they can supervise better in the new year.
  • Give gifts from the heart. Encourage managers to write letters to employees' families telling about recent accomplishments and how much they mean to the company. Throw a party for employees' children.
  • Give the gift of time. Free time around the holidays is especially valuable. Even if your business increases during the holidays, arrange for flextime; your employees will be grateful all year long, according to Hiam.
  • Give the spirit of the season. Around the winter solstice, light levels are low and often so are moods. Bring in flowers, fresh fruit or holly. This is also a good time for a fresh paint job, new furniture or a new break room, he says.
  • Reduce stress. Hire a massage therapist to visit your office or give a free day at the local spa.
  • Promote team building. As a group, get into the holiday spirit by visiting a children' s hospital or retirement home.
  • Make holiday wishes come true. Create a holiday season suggestion system and have a drawing. The winners receive the budget to make an improvement in the workplace. Give them the latitude to do what they need to incorporate ideas that improve their work processes and surroundings. Giving them the opportunity to innovate during the holidays can make a difference all year long.
  • Help employees with the holiday rush. Hand out catalogs (with a company discount) so that employees can order gifts from work. Have a local store representative come to the office and offer gift suggestions as well as take gift orders. Leave boxes, ribbon, wrapping paper, tape and greeting cards at the front entrance for employees to take home. Hiam' s research shows that considerate management styles boost motivation, productivity and profit.
  • Make charitable donations in employees' names. Ask employees to identify their favorite causes so that you can personalize the effort.

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