Industry Market Trends

Are Year-End Employee Rewards Making a Comeback?

Dec 07, 2011

'Tis the season for holiday bonuses, yet most workers today aren't expecting a big year-end reward. Nevertheless, inexpensive tokens of appreciation will go a long way in motivating and fostering loyal employees this holiday season.

Workers can expect more holiday cheer in the office this season, as companies plan to offer more perks than in 2010, according to new findings from

Based on a survey of more than 4,000 workers and more than 2,600 employers, CareerBuilder found that 40 percent of businesses plan to give their employees holiday bonuses this year, up from 33 percent last year. Among this group, 73 percent are planning to give the same amount as last year, 14 percent plan to provide a larger bonus than last year and 13 percent plan to provide a smaller bonus.

In a similar finding, BNA's latest annual year-end holiday practices survey reveals that 46 percent of U.S. employers surveyed plan to give their workers some type of year-end holiday gift or bonus, up from 41 percent of employers in 2010 and 33 percent in 2009.

Indeed, many employers are seeking simple ways to reward their staff and keep workers motivated to ensure their companies remain competitive in the recovering economy.

"Employers have been working hard to build back their businesses over the last year and this holiday season are planning to reward their biggest asset — their people — with a few holiday perks (bonuses, parties, gifts)," Rosemary Haefner, VP of human resources for CareerBuilder, says.

Even a small token of appreciation goes a long way in keeping employees motivated and loyal to their employers, recent research from Parago indicates.

According to survey findings by the corporate and consumer incentives provider, 81 percent of workers think end-of-year rewards are a nice thing to do for employees but should not be expected. In fact, 69 percent of employees do not expect to receive end-of-year rewards or holiday gifts this year, due largely to lower company profits, missed quotas, lack of appreciation or the fact that their company does not normally give out holiday rewards.

However, workers don't necessarily need a fat check to convince them the company cares. An overwhelming 85 percent of employees surveyed said they would feel grateful if they received a prepaid Visa or MasterCard gift card as a holiday reward this year. When asked about their favorite features of prepaid cards, the majority pointed to the fact that they can be spent almost anywhere and at multiple retailers.

Eighty-four percent of respondents said $100 or less would meet their expectations for a reward, while 55 percent said it would take just $25 to make the holidays brighter.

"Employees are not expecting rewards this year, but if they received one it would clearly foster positive attitudes and behavior that could help many companies compete in this tough economy," Juli Spottiswood, president and CEO of Parago, says. "Whether it is for the holidays or as an end-of-year incentive, our research shows that employee rewards are dearly appreciated, no matter the value."

According to Parago's findings, 79 percent of employees said that receiving a year-end reward would mean that they had done a great job and worked hard or that their boss appreciates and/or values them.

Related: Can't Give Bonuses? Try Recognition


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