It may be a while before we face the holiday season again, but since sooner is always better than later, now is the time to address what has come to be known as “the Christmas bonus.” Every year someone calls me the Grinch because I’m the guy who points out the ineffectiveness of the holiday bonus. Employee benefit advisers, brokers and consultants need to recognize there exists more creative vehicles that can serve as incentive programs to drive and maintain growth as well as recruit and retain key talent.

Let’s face it, if you’re looking for incentive programs with long-term effect, think again about handing out bonus checks near the end of December. In fact, many studies indicate that the impact of a holiday bonus on employee focus is typically two weeks prior to and one week after receipt. Further statistics point to the increase in resignations shortly after the bonus check is cashed. What’s wrong with this picture? Here’s the truth: You should be aiming for a rewards strategy that stimulates employee focus 52 weeks of the year, not a measly three. Also, a properly designed rewards program will attract and retain talent, significantly reducing the loss of employees who are critical to the success of the company.

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