Wednesday 18 December 2019 6:05 am

All we want for Christmas is a pay raise — or an office cat

Dan Rogers is co-founder and chief marketing officer at Peakon.

At this time of year, many of us will have fond memories of writing festive wish lists in the fervent hope that we’d been good enough to receive a visit from the big man in red. 

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and while we still have wishes for the festive season, a few of these could be granted by our boss.

So what do employees want to find under the tree at work this year? 

In short, money.

New research we conducted found that financial rewards are the most sought-after gift among UK employees for 2019, with over half of the 2,000 staff we surveyed dreaming of a pay rise or seasonal bonus this December.

Interestingly, while a third would welcome an increase in salary, it doesn’t have to arrive with a change in status or role. In fact, people are up to five times more likely to ask for an increase in salary over a promotion.

This change in mindset could be an indication that status and upward mobility at work are no longer as prized as they once were, with a desire for financial stability taking precedence among the UK’s workforce instead.

But do pay rises equal happier employees? Not exactly.

The fact that money is top of mind for employees at this time of year is not surprising. Pay is the top-ranking topic globally throughout the year on our platform, but giving people more money is unlikely to increase their satisfaction at work. 

If companies don’t pay employees a comfortable wage, they’ll most certainly be unhappy. But paying them an excessive amount or a seasonal bonus won’t unlock untapped levels of motivation either. 

This was highlighted in our research, with more people ranking the prospect of getting an office cat or dog higher on their holiday wish lists than a promotion. While a pet-friendly office is unlikely to replace the need to pay people a fair market rate, it does reinforce the fact that more money is rarely the only solution.

The key to success instead is keeping employees satisfied and engaged in their work so that they remain intrinsically motivated all year round. It’s never too early to start thinking about the next holiday season either, so now is actually a very good time to consider how to approach this in the months ahead.

Giving employees a voice is the first step to engagement. Our data shows that employees crave better communication. Companies must encourage teams to give regular feedback and facilitate frequent one-on-one time to discuss issues. Responding to the concerns raised is also vital for maintaining high levels of engagement within the workforce.

Conducting constructive discussions around pay is important too. Even when employees feel appropriately rewarded for their work, if they can’t talk about salary with their manager, it can lead to disengagement.  

Finally, show employees that their work is valued. Simple actions can have huge consequences and lead to vast improvements. When managers give employees daily feedback and praise, their sense of recognition increases dramatically.

This is why taking time to find out what kind of praise and rewards teams prefer will be key to unlocking greater success in 2020, and beyond.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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