Why giving the gift of more time is one of the greatest ways to reward your staff.

Gift-giving can be a tricky affair.

Who hasn’t had an awkward moment when you realise the gift you have given is worth significantly less than the one you received in exchange? Or when you have to smile through receiving the same gift from several relatives? Or when you get given something that is truly ugly?

I remember one year, all of my siblings gave me a scarf. It was highly depressing! It felt like the kind of gift you would get your great-aunt who you rarely saw but felt obliged to give to at Christmas. I felt a bit hurt if I am honest. Did they have no idea what any of my interests were?

Choosing the right gift to say thank you is hard in our personal lives. It needs to really mean something to the recipient. It is even more difficult when running a team. How do you say thank you and recognise the hard work they have done in a way that really makes a difference to them?

One of the best employee reward packages that we have, in my opinion, is our Reward and Recognition platform. Not just because it looks good and is easy to use, but because it gives the greatest gift you can possibly give as an employer (excluding a huge bonus, of course!) – the gift of time. The platform allows you to give rewards such as “have a lie in” or “go home early on Friday”.

There are so many reasons why sacrificing some work hours as a way of rewarding staff is one of the best ways to motivate and encourage them. But it can also have a surprisingly positive impact on your business too. We just picked out three ways, but there are more:

 

 

1.   It improves productivity long-term.

Rest really, really helps us. Mark Rosekind, the chief scientist at Alertness Solutions, conducted a survey in 2006 on behalf of Air New Zealand, to see if there was a measurable impact from having time off work. He had fifteen volunteers wear wristbands that measured their sleep whilst they enjoyed a holiday abroad.

He discovered that after a few days on holiday, the participants were averaging an hour’s more sleep a night, and there was an 80% improvement in their reaction time during the day, meaning they performed better at a set of tests Rosekind had them complete before and after their trip. Interestingly, the effect only happened after two or three days had passed, proving that we need “winding-down time”; we are not able to just switch off from work and have a huge benefit to our health.

Although this study looked at how their reaction time benefited from having a week-long holiday, it did not go far enough to determine whether that reaction time equated to better work productivity the following week. It did seem to suggest though, that three days off in a row did improve reaction time.

A study conducted in Reykjavík, Iceland went further, looking at how shorter working weeks (and three-day weekends) would affect productivity in the workplace. Between 2015 and 2019, 2,500 workers were paid the same but asked to complete their tasks within four days instead of five, giving them three days to rest in between working weeks. The result was significant. Productivity stayed the same or got better. The government was so impressed with the results, that 86% of the country’s workforce are now going to move to shorter working hours whilst still receiving the same pay.

Giving the gift of time off as a reward can actually improve the productivity of your employees long-term.

 

2.   It improves retention

Giving more time off also helps with the retention of your staff.

A survey conducted by staffing firm Accountemps in the United States asked workers what would encourage them to stick around at a job for longer.  Surprisingly, “More time off” nudged “better benefits” off the top position, making it the most desired workplace perk.

Staff who feel that they are being acknowledged, thanked, and rewarded for their hard work will feel happier in their workplace and stick around for longer. Being thanked with the gift of time-off would be highly valued.

 

 

3.   It improves staff wellbeing

Extra time off really helps your health. There have been numerous studies on this topic, and the impact is now so accepted that it almost does not need to be proved by citing a study! But for the sake of being transparent, I feel I must.

A 2017 study showed that cutting working hours by 25% lowered stress and improved sleep. Now, I am not advocating slashing your whole team’s work hours by a quarter every week! You may already be working to a 4 day week as it is, but giving a gift of a little bit of time off as a reward at the end of a really tough project can allow staff to recover from a grueling task, recognise and reward their achievement and help their bodies recover ready for the next challenge.

 

 

When should you give rewards at work?

We have just picked out three reasons why giving the gift of more time is great. The team feels a positive impact, but your business feels the benefit too. But it might not be something that you can do all the time. Your company might be small, or your deadlines time-sensitive. So, instead of having a scattergun approach, consider thinking about the most optimum time to use this most precious of work perks for rewarding employees. Here are some of our ideas:

 

As a Christmas bonus

Gifting some additional paid leave at Christmas could be the glittery bow on a neatly wrapped package of bonuses you give your team at the end of the calendar year.

 

At the end of a project

If your work is project-based, giving all your team a Friday afternoon off at the end of a long grueling project will help them feel that sense of completion and let them recharge ready for their next challenge.

 

During a “slow season”

If your company has a slow season where not much is going on, letting your team leave early one day a week will not have any impact on your bottom line, and might even improve morale and reduce frustration for them. There is nothing worse than trying to invent things to make yourself look busy when you are a naturally conscientious person.

 

As a commission

Many workplaces operate a commission model where employees are given a cash bonus when they onboard a new client or secure a sale. How about offering a lie-in as a reward through a Reward and Recognition platform as well as a monetary gift. Highlighting their work through the platform will help goal-orientated people too.

So, do not waste your time giving out company pens at your Christmas works do! Do not settle on just gifting the cleaner with a bunch of flowers once a year or pinning an “employee of the month” mug shot to the canteen noticeboard. Instead, give one of the greatest gifts that you have at your disposal… the gift of a bit of extra time! Your business will feel the benefit of extra productivity, increased retention, and staff that produce better work.