Christmas is the ideal time to start rewarding your staff

With the worst cost of living crisis in many years now in full swing both people and businesses are tightening their belts.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 93% of adults in the UK reported an increase in their cost of living in August and September 2022. This hits low income households harder as they spend a greater proportion of their income, on average, on energy and food.

Inflation, currently above 10%, is close to a 40-year high. And economic research specialist Capital Economics is warning the cost of living crisis is turning into a cost of borrowing crisis.

It said people were increasingly turning to credit to pay for food and bills. This was backed up by data from the Bank of England which showed credit card borrowing rose at its fastest pace for 17 years in August.

Peter Tutton, head of policy, research and public affairs at debt charity StepChange, said people were “vulnerable to panic borrowing to try to fill the gap between their income and their essential spending”.

Businesses are also feeling the squeeze. Rising energy, stock and raw materials prices are creating a dilemma of how much to pass on to the hard-pressed consumer. This was brought into sharp focus by retail analysts Springboard in late October. It showed a decline in high street footfall of 3.3% and 1.5% in retail parks over one week.

Now Christmas is on the horizon and the ‘season of goodwill’ presents its own challenges. Weather is getting colder and heating bills are on the rise and people are wondering how they can afford to buy gifts and extra food.

Businesses are also battling strong headwinds as we head into the festive season. Costs of energy and raw materials have soared in recent months. Add to that a fiercely competitive jobs market which is making staff recruitment and retention all the more difficult.

According to corporate rewards and employee recognition specialist Love2shop, businesses across the UK could do more for their workers. Its Love2shop Employee Value Report 2022 found 33% of all of UK employees feel undervalued at work. And, alarmingly, it reported 74% of people said they would look for a new job if they felt undervalued.

Now you would imagine Christmas would be the perfect time to let your teams know how much their work all year round is valued.

However, rising overheads are putting a squeeze on available cash so offering any kind of bonus or reward to their employees presents a challenge. While their workers face a cost of living crisis, employers face a cost of GIVING crisis.

Another interesting statistic from the Love2shop report is that 76% of employees did feel valued or recognised when their employer spontaneously gave them a gift. And this does present a real opportunity.

Now, an easy route to this could be a trip to the wholesalers to bulk buy some bottles of wine and boxes of chocolates and give them out. However, it seems to lack a little thought and imagination. Like the husband who grabs a cheap bunch of flowers from a service station for his wife for their anniversary.

So how can an employer offer a reward that seems genuinely thoughtful, offers real help to employees struggling to make ends meet, and doesn’t cost the earth.

Love2shop has been helping companies across the UK do just that for more than 50 years. During that time is has partnered up with 150,000 businesses to help them provide rewards and recognition to both staff and customers.

Its Love2shop gifting products are available in both physical and digital form. Accepted by more than 90 big-name retailers across the UK, Love2shop is one of the best established and well recognised gifting brands in the UK.

Love2shop e-Gift card offers multi-choice digital reward codes can be delivered directly to your employee’s inbox. Recipients then exchange the balance for any of the top single-store e-Gift Cards or Love2shop Gift Cards.

Love2shop Contactless is the UK’s first digital gift card. It works with Apple, Samsung and Google phone wallets. Sent and received online, add to mobile wallet and it’s right there on their phone, ready to go. People can even schedule rewards to be delivered on Christmas Day.

Some people prefer something more tangible and the Love2shop Gift Card fit the bill. Cardholders can also exchange their balance online for e-Gift cards to capitalise on online sales.

And with a long tradition, the Love2shop vouchers have been a popular choice as a gift for many years and come with long expiry dates. With the cost of loving now an issue for so many people Love2shop is perfect as it can be spent on everyday essentials or luxuries such as day out experiences or meals.

Alternatively, Love2shop offers the Everyday Benefits Card. This offers all the advantages and flexibility of Love2shop, offering a 7.5% discount when a user loads up their card. So, a card load of £100 costs the recipient just £92.50. They can then use their card to shop with multiple top brands.

And they represent really good value for businesses. They can cost as little as £6 per card if 1,000 cards are purchased.

Frank Creighton, Director of Business Development at Love2shop, said: “We know from our own research, and from years of feedback from clients, the power of a carefully-targeted employee benefits and rewards programme.

“We are witnessing the phenomenon of ‘The Great Resignation’ where people are no longer prepared to remain in workplaces where they feel undervalued, are demotivated and believe no one is seeing or appreciating their efforts.

“We have worked with thousands of employers across multiple sectors, in the public and private sectors, over the years and we have the know-how and experience to make these programmes work for you and your teams.”

By utilising Love2shop Gift Cards, employers can take advantage of HMRC’s Trivial Benefits Allowance. This allows them to gift up to £50 in Love2shop Gift Cards completely tax-free to every employee in their organisation.

This offers a saving to the business of up to £48.10 per employee (for higher rate taxpayers), simply by delivering a non-cash gift. This makes gift cards a far more attractive means to say ‘thank you’ than cash issued through an employee’s salary.

Frank added: “Incentivising and rewarding people is what progressive and forward-thinking businesses do. It helps you hire and retain the right people, increases productivity and ultimately boosts the bottom line.

“Offering rewards also simply makes your workplace a nice place to be for everyone who works there. And it is easier and less costly to set up and run than you may think. What’s not to like.”

Flexecash is the pre-paid card platform which issues the Love2shop Cards. This facility is provided by Park Card Services Ltd who are Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to issue electronic money. (FRN: 900016)

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