When it comes to the winter months, you may hear the word “bonus” spring up many times in conversation. Of course you want to reward your team for their hard work at the end of the year, but giving staff members a cash bonus may not be something that you are able to do, especially given the strain on your nursery’s budget.

Do also bear in mind that any extra payments that you make as part of an employee’s salary will be taxable and attract National Insurance (NI) and Employers Contribution (NIC). So, by the time the money hits your employee’s bank account, it may be significantly less than the original amount paid.

As an alternative, you could consider rewards which cannot be exchanged for cash, as these tend not to attract tax or National Insurance. For example, you could give staff vouchers for a meal at a local restaurant or cinema tickets. If you are unclear about which rewards are tax deductible, seek advice from your accountant.

Spread the cheer

Rather than limiting recognition of your team’s hard work to a small period over Christmas, why not do this throughout the year? Then, your setting can celebrate staff achievement on a more regular basis. Without spending much money, you can make awards varied and fun, for instance - giving out a personalised certificate for the person who has changed the most nappies for the month.

Individual effort

There’s no doubt that rewarding individuals can create a healthy air of competitiveness amongst your team, but if you go down this route you need to consider whether recognition of one person’s efforts will cause disharmony amongst the remaining colleagues.

If you do choose this method, it is much better to have an employee’s hard work recognised by their own peers rather than by managers.  For example, you could have an “Employee of the Month” award where colleagues nominate each other. This will make everyone feel like they have an equal opportunity to be chosen and that everyone has an input into the award.

Stronger together

You could also consider recognising team effort by setting targets in advance. Any targets you set for your team should be achievable, specific and easy to measure. For example, you could set a goal of having an average occupancy of 70% for the next term. The advantage of this is that your team will pull together and support each other to work towards a common aim.

As Jessie J famously sung, recognising hard work from your practitioners is “not about the money”. There are much more creative, thoughtful and cost saving ways to recognise the efforts of your team over the year.  But, if you’re stuck for inspiration, here are some ideas that other nurseries have already put into practice:

-          Vouchers for the cinema for those who make an effort to come to work on a snow day

-          Buy chocolates and cakes to show appreciation for hard work

-          Give staff members a day off in lieu

-          Creating a personalised album for 5 years work anniversary

-          Employee of the Month/Term award for a £25 voucher

Once you have decided on what rewards you will give to your staff members, don’t forget to share the news. Some nurseries share their staff recognition with notices to visitors in the foyer, in newsletters to parents as well as on their website or social media pages. This is positive because it demonstrates that your nursery enjoys celebrating achievement beyond the confines of the internal team.

View our blog for more valuable news and information affecting the Childcare Sector.

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