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25 February 2022

Great Ways To Say Thank You To Your Employees On This Employee Appreciation Day

In this week’s blog, we look at celebrating employee appreciation day along with a list of great ways to thank your employees.

Employee appreciation day (Friday 4th March) is the perfect opportunity for employers to recognise their hard-working team members, especially during challenging times. While I am a big believer that organisations should appreciate efforts all year round, it is a reminder to say thanks for all that our employees do and to shine the spotlight on those who make our work world a better place to be.

Employee recognition has a big impact on business. But it often gets forgotten and overshadowed by all the other stuff we typically think of when we think of what is to be done. It’s often seen as trivial, nice to have but lacking any kind of core importance for organisation success.

So why does this stuff matter?

Most people show up to a job with the hope of feeling valued and connected. Studies have shown that engaged employees are more productive and make better decisions for their company, they have more focus to get things right, and are more engaged to resolve issues when things go wrong. 

Engaged employees are more productive because they like or love what they are doing. Engaged employees innovate more because they deeply want their organisation to succeed. A feeling of camaraderie, collaboration and teamwork is a fundamental need we all have as human beings. Having fun in the workplace helps us have fun and enjoy our lives at home.

So the question is, do your employees feel valued by your organisation? If you’re feeling inspired here are a few easy and actionable ways to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day.

  1. Throw your own mini-festival

Hire a local musician, crack open a few beverages and host your very own Glastonbury or Woodstock. Get your team to switch off for the afternoon, put out a picnic (or get delivery in), and give your team a well-earned chance to sing, dance and reconnect with each other. Let’s face it, they probably won’t remember much about your cutting-edge tech-friendly vending machine, but they will remember the afternoon off, the singing, dancing and bonding with their work friends.

  1. Celebrate with your own awards ceremony

Celebrate with your own awards ceremony. Bring the glamour and fun of the Oscars to your workplace and host your very own awards ceremony. Get the team together to vote for their favourite team tea maker, to the exceptional listener award. Ensure everyone is celebrated for their contributions and it is an event that looks back at the great things already achieved and gets everyone excited for what’s to come in the future.

  1. Let’s get Quizzical

If your team are fond of a little competitive fun, why not extend your lunch hour and host your very own pub quiz? You can even nominate a Quiz Master to make sure everything runs smoothly. Pub quizzes are a fun way to engage staff and boost morale, and it’s also really helpful for team-building purposes. Add a few tricky trivia questions and some fun prizes and giveaways too.

  1. Host your own Great British Bake Off

If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood – this is the event for you. Yes if you’re accepting of a few crumbs on the office carpet, and love a lot of cake, why not host your own cake baking competition? Set a theme for the event, get everyone to bake their own creations at home, bring them in and keep them anonymous and have everyone be the judges! After all, who doesn’t love cake?

  1. Trade places

Step down from being in charge, switch places with your team and allow them to nominate a new boss for the day. If you do something like this, don’t over-plan it. Give your employees the freedom to enjoy it on their own terms, and don’t be overly critical of their performance. Be encouraged by it instead. It’s a great opportunity for people to get out of their comfort zones, learn new things about themselves, and bond with coworkers.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate employee appreciation day, always remember that your employees are what makes your company great. Yes, it’s important to reward them for their hard work, but it’s even more important to stop for a minute and thank them for the time and effort that they dedicate to your business each and every day, and have a few laughs and some cake in the process.

If you are interested in focusing on employee appreciation, spend 2 minutes taking our Happy Employee Scorecard and receive a unique report that shares how you can start improving your employee happiness in the workplace.

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17 February 2022

In April 2022 National Insurance contributions will increase as part of the Governments plans to resuscitate the NHS post Covid-19. The 1.25% rise in contributions has been labelled the Health and Social Care Levy and is forecast to raise an additional £11.4bn in revenue for the NHS and social care.

But how will this increase affect employees? And what are the benefits, or lack of, for salary exchange schemes?     

What is salary exchange?

Salary Exchange schemes allow employees to use some of their gross salary (before tax) to pay for a number of approved benefits – including childcare, pensions, cycle to work schemes and low emission vehicles. Certain benefits come with additional caveats; for example, if a car emits more than 75g/km CO2 then they are taxed as a benefit in kind and exchange schemes must not reduce an employee’s cash earnings below the National Minimum Wage (More information can be found on the website here). 

What do the April changes mean? 

Currently employees pay NICs at 12% for income between £184 and £967 per week. Everything over £967 is at 2%. This is increasing to 13.25% and 3.25% respectively. 

It isn’t just employees who will be affected by the rate change. The Employers contribution rate will also rise from 13.8% for income over £170 per week to 15.05%.  

In simple terms someone earning the average basic rate salary of £24,100 will pay £180 a year more whilst the average higher rate earner on £67,100 will pay £715 more. 

What are the negative sides to salary exchange?

A lower salary can also affect future entitlements to things like maternity or paternity pay, some state allowances and potentially, mortgage applications. 

Other employee benefits linked to your salary (such as life insurance) may be affected. 

Your employer or benefit provider should be able to explain the effects based on your personal circumstances. 

What can you do about the increase?

Unfortunately, nothing can be done to avoid the increase as it is implicated by Parliament and applies to everyone who is paid a salary. Even Directors who pay themselves in dividends will be affected as the rate on dividends taken is also due to rise. 

Whilst you can’t avoid the increase the best way to counter it is to look at using your gross salary to its maximum effect.  

Whilst you can’t avoid the increase this could be the time to consider using a salary exchange scheme towards an electric or plug-in hybrid car with lower emissions (under 50g/km) that fall into the ultra-low vehicle tax bands introduced in 2021. 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of salary exchange and employee benefits we would be happy to hear from you. 

*Referred to as salary sacrifice by HMRC