"Having had a better year than usual, I'm trying to decide how best to reward my employees this Christmas. I have 200 staff and was thinking of giving everyone a £50 store voucher. Is this money well spent?"
Consider whether, for £10,000, there might be a better way of saying thanks. Our simple advice is to ask people what they would like. Staff could write their ideas on a poster, or you could arrange a survey or host a brainstorming session to develop ideas. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to contribute.
Someone we know did this last year, after finding that £50 wouldn't make much difference to an individual. Instead, staff preferred a pool table and flat-screen TV (with Sky) installed in their staff room, and a Christmas party in January when things had quietened down. The pool table and TV were purchased and people now enjoy these all year round. A memorable party also took place in January, all for less than the original £10,000.
You could consider a bonus pool. "Bank" the Christmas bonus and let employees decide how they'd like to spend it (this also removes your headache).
Surveys show that parties are considered more important than many other incentives. They can boost morale and create opportunities to get to know one other in an informal atmosphere.
There are other things you can do that won't dip into the budget. Praise and recognition are always important. How about writing to employees who have done a particularly great job to say thank you (maybe this applies to all of them)?
Or a "secret Santa", where each team member buys a gift for another. Either contribute yourself or run this alongside your chosen rewards.
Themes work well but make sure people keep it clean and ethical to avoid offending anyone.