Year-End Notes: Takeaways from Evanta, HR, and the Holiday Party

Happy, engaged employee in a meeting

Bright Horizons VP Martin Payne brings 20+ years of leadership in the human resources, employee benefits, and engagement space.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of headlines about elaborate year-end gifts for lucky employees. 

One company gave away $10 million in bonuses; 

Another doled out 13 Cadillacs. 

Impressive gifts, indeed. But it’s got me thinking about sprints versus marathons; the tortoise and the hare. In other words, will a grand gesture on one day at the end of a year effectively propel your talent strategy through the other 364 (or 365 since 2020 is a leap year)? Evidence says perhaps…no.

Bigger Than Bonuses

Employees in one recent survey said they’d actually skip the holiday amenities completely if it meant more meaningful year-round support. More than half would even give up the annual bonus. “The modern workforce would prefer to forego traditional workplace holiday perks,” wrote the authors of the survey, “in favor of more consistent rewards and recognition throughout the year.” 

This doesn’t surprise us at all. Personal responsibilities are year-round events; benefits need to be, too. Giving a worried employee a coach to help with elder care; paying monthly to help an employee cut their student loan payment period in half – those things not only deliver year-round; they offer regular reminders of the investments you’re making. 

What CHROs are Saying

The survey responses also fit with conversations heard earlier this year at Evanta CHRO conferences in Charlotte and Atlanta. Over and over, employers told the same story about what makes successful HR: positive cultures, responsive leadership, and the right benefits that continually show that you understand your people, and are solving for their pain points. 

Don’t get us wrong – the above are impressive rewards. And employee appreciation matters. At Bright Horizons, we spend a whole month celebrating employees, but those celebrations and rewards are part of a year-round culture alongside our benefits, not instead of them.

So as you get to the end of this year, and start thinking about strategy and the potential headlines you could generate next holiday season, remember –

A burst of excitement will kick up a short-term sprint. 

But slow and steady wins the race.

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Happy, engaged employee in a meeting

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