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Employees Prefer Frequent Rewards to One Holiday Bonus

Today’s workforce would prefer to forego traditional workplace holiday perks, such as a holiday party or annual bonus, in favor of more consistent rewards and recognition throughout the year.


This is according to a new study from Reward Gateway, a global employee engagement company, which surveyed 1,400 employees and senior decision-makers across the United Kingdom, United States and Australia.

Notably, almost two thirds (65%) of employees surveyed agree that their employers could do more to understand what would be most helpful to them during the holiday season.

“While we shouldn’t overlook the fact that many people are just tired of boring holiday parties, we should use this data to reinforce the critical need for your employees to be listened to and understood when it comes to rewards that matter to them,” said Scott Cawood, president and CEO of WorldatWork. “Instead of asking your workforce what they want for the holidays, tweak the question to be in the context that means something, like ‘what could we do to help you the most during the holiday time?’” 

Reward Gateway’s research highlights what the modern workforce — employees across all generations that prioritize flexibility, collaboration and purpose — prefers from their employers during the holiday season:

  • More than half of employees surveyed aged 25–44, feel that paid time off during the holidays is more important than receiving an end-of-year bonus, in contrast to their colleagues aged 45–55 and older who would prefer the latter.
  • About 58% of recent graduates agree that they would prefer to forego a holiday bonus in favor of more frequent rewards throughout the year, compared to just over 42% of employees aged 45–54.
  • More than 40% of employees surveyed would prefer savings on everyday purchases instead of a standard holiday party. About 30% of employees surveyed would prefer savings on experiences instead of a holiday party.
  • When it comes to stress levels during the holidays, 65% of human resources managers acknowledge that their employees have heightened levels of stress in their financial health, but only about 40% offer support in this area, which employees are looking for.

The findings highlight that HR and business leaders must evolve to meet the demands of the modern workforce. In fact, more than three quarters (76%) agree that they could in fact do more to understand what would be most helpful to employees during the holiday season. 

“Today, employees are challenging their employers to look at their benefits as well as reward and recognition programs more closely, getting them to understand that what has worked traditionally may not work for today’s modern workforce,” said Robert Hicks, group HR director at Reward Gateway. “What’s interesting from the findings is that employee preference is changing and that managers agree — companies could be doing more to better engage their workforces. Organizations that prioritize listening to their people and delivering continuous rewards and recognition can create an environment where employees are more engaged and excited about where they work all year, not just during the holidays.”

About WorldatWork

WorldatWork is a professional nonprofit association that sets the agenda and standard of excellence in the field of Total Rewards. Our membership, signature certifications, data, content, and conferences are designed to advance our members’ leadership, and to help them influence great outcomes for their own organizations.

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