Small Bonuses Make a Big Impact on Employees . / Credit: Bonus Image via Shutterstock

It won't take much for businesses to bring a little cheer to their employees this holiday season, a new study finds.

Research by incentives consulting firm Parago revealed that more than 60 percent of employees would be happy with just a $25 gift card as a year-end bonus, up from 55 percent in 2011.

Despite the little amount it would take to make employees happy, the poll shows that nearly 70 percent of employees do not expect to receive year-end rewards or a holiday bonus this year.

The research found that a year-end reward would go a long way toward making employees feel valued.  More than 80 percent of those surveyed said a bonus would make them feel appreciated, motivated to work harder or be more loyal to the company, while 82 percent of employees said that receiving an end-of-year reward would mean that they had done a great job and worked hard, or that their employer appreciates and values them.

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"This data shows a huge opportunity for employers to foster a loyal environment and maintain a productive work force, because employees are satisfied with smaller holiday rewards and feel even more appreciated and motivated when they receive them," said Juli Spottiswood, president and CEO of Parago. "This is positive news for employers still struggling in the tough economy, because it reveals simple ways that they can keep employees loyal and thereby maintain a productive and competitive business."

When given a choice, the study found that more than 80 percent of employees prefer prepaid Visa or MasterCard debit cards that can be spent anywhere the card brand is accepted, versus gift cards that can be spent only at the retailer it is from.

The study was based on surveys of more than 600 employees.

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