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When's The Best Time To Roll Out A New Rewards Scheme?

We've done some research, and the answer is clear: it's whenever feels like a good time for you. We run through your options and how to make a decision on setting up a new rewards scheme at your business, regardless of which schemes you might have in place already.


Full disclosure: our research was searching this post title and seeing what everyone else has written, and it turns out there's not a lot of consensus on when's a good time to run a new rewards scheme. So, we're going to go through it quarter by quarter to see if we can't work out what time of year works best for you and your business. We can't help you plan via this post (although you could take a look at our guide to running a simple benefits scheme), but if you'd like a helping hand feel free to reach out to contact@virginincentives.co.uk!

These sections will all work under the assumption that you'd start planning benefits, budgets and the like at the beginning of the quarter, rather than the end. For example: prefer June to April to getting things done? Look at Q3 rather than Q2.


Should I start a benefits scheme in Q1?

Budding white flowers

Pros:

  • Fresh start
  • Christmas rush is over
  • Blast January blues for employees
  • Start-of-year discounts

There's a reason New Year's resolutions come at the beginning of the year. Everyone's got an initial burst of optimism that now's the time to do something new, so you can jump on that with some new benefits for your team. Start a sales incentive scheme and capture your sales' teams resolutions to 'be the best', or keep loyal employees around by finally announcing that loyalty scheme you've been suggesting for a while. The energy in the office will be starting to sag, having followed the joys and excesses of Christmas (and maybe the Christmas party if you have one!), so now can be a good time to reach out to agencies and see if they've got any January sales for you to take advantage of (sales don't just apply to gadgets and furniture you know) and raise those office spirits.

Cons:

  • Staff not noticing announcements
  • Backlogs caused by Christmas
  • You can't keep everyone
  • Budgets

Admittedly budgets could be a pro for you, depending on when they're assessed at your company (this post is assuming a tax-year related assessment, which you'll see in Q2), but if the pot has been dwindling since Easter last year then you could be facing an uphill battle to get new things signed off. However, if you get new year, new budgets, then definitely think about new schemes!

Depending on the nature of your business, the Christmas break could have led to backlogs for many of your staff, yourself included, where things that would normally get done daily have piled up meaning there's twice the amount of things to do in half the time. Hearing about new things to think about (no matter how good they are) while inundated with work can lead to them being buried or ignored, and even your own work 'plate' could be overflowing with tasks - so starting up a new Reward and Recognition scheme could be the last thing on your mind!


Should I start a benefits scheme in Q2?

Some Crocuses

Pros:

  • Fresh budgets
  • Weather's warming up
  • Summer's basically here

With the advent of a new tax year, there's usually more money to play with regarding rewarding your loyal staff. You might even have undertaken year-reviews on your benefits from the past year (this probably applies to Q1 too), so you know which direction to proceed in for the new money-making year. With the warming weather as well, people are looking forward to what they might like to do during those long days and warm summer evenings - if you're thinking of a summer party, now's the time to plan it. We're thinking of barbecues already just talking about it!

Cons:

  • A scrutinising eye on requests
  • Last year's effects
  • Work's likely ramping up

The new year's into full swing, and now it's time for tax returns so every purchase from the past year is being gone over with a fine-toothed comb. Hopefully a lot of your rewards purchases will have come with some nice VAT receipts and refunds (though that's changed in 2019) making your new purchases easier, but if not then you'll likely have your work cut out justifying your new rewards budgets. Similarly, everyone's going to be getting progressively busier, so those who might have to review and approve your budgets could be busy doing trading reports for the company owners or board of executives.

Also, if last year's rewards weren't well-received, you could find your budget cut for this trading year. If so, it might be time to find something with a high-perceived value and no price on the cover...


Should I start a benefits scheme in Q3?

A river in autumn with leaves and that

Pros:

  • Summer's here
  • Everyone's looking outside work
  • Ride the wave of good feeling

The sun's in the sky, the bees are buzzing (but at a safe, cute distance) and everyone's thinking about their time outside of the office. When better to drop some news on your colleagues and employees that this year, this summer, they've got some great stuff to look forward to. Try and gather info on the spirit of the office and tailor your benefits package accordingly, as people are likely to be going on about what they're going to be doing for the rest of the year - keep your ears tuned to the popular, 'Going anywhere for your holidays?'.

Similarly to Q2, if you're thinking of Christmas parties then now's the time to at least start planning. A lot of places offer discounts if you book super early for Christmas (or price gouge you if you book late), so all the more reason to get in before everyone else.

Cons:

  • It might be too hot to think
  • A lot of staff, including yourself, might be on holiday
  • Budgets could be largely assigned by this point

Business is always going to carry on as usual, but in some offices it can take on a languid pace come summertime when no-one wants to work up a sweat (that they're going to get walking outside anyway). There's also a cascading holiday effect, where one member of staff hears about another member of staff going on holiday, gets jealous, and books in some holiday time of their own. Before you know it, you've skeleton crew on your hands and no time to reassess your benefits even if you wanted to.

The last point depends on when and how deeply you plan for the upcoming year. If you do it a month at a time, you could start a new benefits scheme or change your benefits practically whenever you wanted. If you do it in chunks, by the time you're over halfway through the year your budget's been trimmed down (possibly by half, depending on your working cycle) so you've less to play with, so that's something to consider if you'd like to roll out something bigger than last year.


Should I start a benefits scheme in Q4?

A frozen bubble on a winter tree

Pros:

  • You know how much budget you have left
  • Tie-in with Christmas bonuses
  • Set up the new year ahead of time

It's here, Christmas and autumn/winter have come around again, so why not look at the budget pot you've got left for benefits and see how that might fit into a long service award scheme, sales incentive (for the end-of-year push) or just a yearly bonus for staff. You'll also have a really good idea of what you spend your benefit pot on over the course of the year, so hwy not take stock of how it went and assign funds accordingly to different things.

People weren't redeeming their rewards? Maybe set up reminders, or give them rewards with fewer redemption steps. People didn't even know they'd got something? Talk to line managers and stakeholders to get the message out there. The allusers emails are going to be flying by the end of the month, so why not slip some good news in there and give your staff a year end (and new year) to really look forward to!

Cons:

  • Staff using up the last of their holiday
  • You might have run out of budget by now
  • Decision makers might be OOO

Much like in summer, those that haven't used up all their holiday by the time Q4 rolls around are better off booking it all now rather than losing it all (or rolling over a smattering of days for the next year). Again, you've got a group of colleagues that could miss out on important benefits-related announcements, or you've got fewer people to make a representative panel from if you're planning on asking your employees what they might like to see change in their benefits packages (although, this panel could still work this time of year as they've had time to use/ignore their year's benefits).

Decision makers might be out of office spending time with their families or skiing in Canada so you might find it challenging to get new schemes signed off in a timely manner, assuming you still have budget left by the time the last few months roll around and it hasn't all been assigned already.


In conclusion, finding the right time to roll out a new rewards scheme can be challenging, but there are reasons for and against doing it at any time of year (convenient that!). We advise a good, long planning process, long enough to iron out all of the details and analyse your options, but not so long that you end up hating the whole idea by the end of it. Start your planning with some research into your options, and finish up by knowing exactly how your benefits will be delivered (like a handy portal for instance...).

Want a hand with it all? Get in contact at contact@virginincentives.co.uk or call us on 0330 111 3030 and we can talk about everything you need to get a new scheme sorted - whenever you'd like to get it delivered!

Photos by:

unsplash-logoMohammad Amiri unsplash-logoMohammad Ali Jafarian unsplash-logoAaron Burden

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