If your team works hard all the year round, the end of the financial or calendar year is an ideal time to thank them. Cash bonuses are an obvious answer, and one that everyone welcomes. They are also the type of reward that comes with the most pitfalls. Consider your options before you plunge ahead:

Cold hard cash

Providing a cash bonus at the end of the year is a good way to make yourself popular, but there are two things that you need to keep in mind. The first is continuity. The cash bonus may be effective this year, but if you’re unable to follow it up next year, or have to reduce the amount, then you could be setting your business up for a morale slump.

The second thing to think about is whether the amount of cash bonus you can provide is worthwhile. If you’re only able to provide a small bonus, it’s possible you can get a better effect by choosing one of the other options.


Gifts are possibly the most common form of reward for employees, and they can have a great effect. The reason to choose gift items over cash is that a relatively inexpensive gift can be more impressive than the cash that paid for it. That said, it’s vital to choose the right gifts.

One thing to remember when giving out staff gifts is that bland is best. Unless your company is small enough that you know each employee’s tastes very well, individual gifts aren’t likely to impress. Separate gifts can also single people out, undermining the efforts you’ve made toward teamwork. Universal, enjoyable gifts like bottles of wine, boxes of chocolates or even movie ticket vouchers are a good choice.

Party time

The end-of-year party is an almost universal event which can easily be turned into a reward. All that’s required is a little investment to ensure that everyone has a good time. It doesn’t have to be an event at the Hilton to impress – even funding a Friday night drinks event can be enough.

There is an added bonus for your business in holding an end-of-year party, and that’s the team-building effect a good party has. This can be enhanced by working some games in. The teamwork required, combined with the party atmosphere, will have a lasting effect.

Free time

A final reward is one that very few employers think of offering: the gift of time. Offering some extra time off is a good way to reward staff for hard work without suffering out-of-pocket expenses.

Recognising the efforts of your staff is a worthy investment. It shows that you appreciate what they do. Reward them, and you’ll continue to see the benefits.
For more on this topic: Remuneration and Rewards: How to get the Balance Right