Valentine’s Day can help to launch quirky incentive schemes

If you read nothing else, read this…

• A new year can be an excellent time to launch an incentive scheme and making it coincide with an event such as Valentine’s Day can help capture employees’ interest.

• Experience days and reward vouchers offer staff a tailor-made treat.
Quirky incentives need not cost a lot, but can be a talking point and boost good feeling towards the employer.

• Offering a reward staff can share with their partner or family will show their employer values them as a person as well as an employee.

Valentine’s Day can provide an ideal opportunity to launch an employee incentive scheme, says Georgina Fuller

The beginning of a new year can often seem an anticlimax after December’s festivities, but it can also be an ideal time to launch a motivation scheme. Tying schemes into events such as Valentine’s Day on 14 February can be a good way to offer some quirkier incentives to show staff some love.

Steve Baker, head of recognition and incentives at Grass Roots, says: “As Valentine’s Day is probably the most famous day for recognising those who mean the most to you, it is a great way for employers to show their staff how much they appreciate them.”

Such days also offer theming opportunities to present staff with small, quirky gifts. These could include a chocolate heart or single red rose, for example. Coming into the workplace to find a small gift waiting for them will undoubtedly prove a talking point among employees and can help to boost good feeling towards their employer.

There may also be advantages in offering incentives that employees can share with their partners or families.

Graham James, director at motivation consultancy AYMTM, says: “By offering rewards that can include a partner, including dinner for two, weekends away or champagne, instead of just work or team-oriented rewards such as team activity days or nights out, employers can show they see the whole person, not just the employee, building a better work-life balance.”

Gifts, instant reward, experience days and fully-fledged recognition schemes can all help to send the right message to staff and the start of a new year is a good time to get them on board. “Many of us make resolutions for the new year which often include trying something new,” says Baker. “Experience days offer a great opportunity to motivate staff with a reward that ties in with these aspirations.”

Experience market has taken off

The experience market has really taken off in recent years offering a wide range of activities, including rally driving, bungee jumping, high-speed car passenger rides, a makeover photoshoot, chocolate making, jewellery workshops, introductory flying lessons and a cocktail-making masterclass.

Other novel incentives include scratch cards and lifestyle vouchers. Patrick McAleenan, head of PR and marketing at Red Letter Days, says: “Scratch cards have become very popular and are a great way to create an impact.

Employers can choose what they want staff to win, which could be experience vouchers, lifestyle vouchers or gifts, or have the option to win particular values so they can make the choice themselves.”

Scratch cards can also be designed specifically for an employer to help communicate the right message to its workforce.

Lifestyle vouchers can give staff access to a range of treats appealing to different tastes and interests, says McAleenan. “They can have fashion, beauty, jewellery, electronics and everything else the traditional high-street voucher offers, but they can have all of that and more, including a huge variety of activities to enjoy out of office hours.”

But when offering quirkier or more personalised rewards, employers must ensure that the choices available appeal to all employees. “The trick is to make sure the reward fits the staff,” says James.

Read also Voluntary benefits get quirky

Read more articles on motivation and incentive programmes