What You Can Offer Instead Of A Holiday Bonus

Holiday bonuses are a time-honored tradition—but they're not always the right option for your company. Whether your budget is tight or you don't want to deal with the tax issues associated with bonus pay, you might be looking for alternatives. Here are a few employee appreciation ideas you can offer instead of a holiday bonus.

holiday bonus

Additional Time Off During The Holidays

If you can't swing a holiday bonus, the next best thing is to give your employees additional time off at the end of the year. In 2017, 15 percent of companies shut down during the week between Christmas and New Year's, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, and depending on your industry, offering this time off could be the most cost-effective holiday bonus possible for your company. How much work gets done then, anyway? The emails your employees send will be met with out-of-office replies. You could potentially save on overhead costs; you'll build goodwill; and everyone will be refreshed to hit the ground running in January.

Flexibility With Work Schedules

If closing the last week of the year isn't an option, consider offering employees additional flexibility in their schedules during November and December. It's a hectic time of year for everyone, with the need to make it to school programs, attend spouses' holiday parties, participate in extra volunteer opportunities, etc. Make it easier for employees to duck out of work early for family responsibilities or even just to go holiday shopping. Even the employee who doesn't "do holidays" with family can enjoy the time to go see a movie or get a massage.

Gift Cards Any Employee Could Appreciate

It can be tricky to replace cash bonuses with tangible items (one thinks of Clark Griswold and the Jelly of the Month Club in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation), but there are many gifts you can give employees that will be appreciated. The key is to give the employee as much flexibility as possible with the gift. In other words, don't give everyone a holiday turkey—give them a grocery store gift card instead so the vegetarians and turkey-haters can buy what they like for their celebration. Or, better yet, give a gift card to a major retailer, so they can choose to buy gifts for their families or for themselves. No matter what gift you give, run the idea by your accountant, as there can be tax implications for gift cards, too.

Fun And Team Building On Company Time

Your company might still have a traditional holiday party, and if that works in your corporate culture, great. But if you're adding an additional event in lieu of a bonus, consider doing it on company time. No one needs another obligation in the month of December, and after-hours events bring all sorts of baggage: the need for a fancy outfit, the need to find a baby-sitter or the need to find a date, just to name a few. A better solution is to dedicate a day or an afternoon to team building.

You could go with a simple, inexpensive option, like ordering pizza in and playing games in the conference room. Or you could venture further afield. Perhaps your team could work an afternoon at the local food bank. Or maybe you want to try your hand at an escape room. Some movie theaters can even be rented for private screenings. No matter what you do, you're giving employees a break from the routine and encouraging them to spend time together in a more relaxed setting. It's a win-win.

No matter what your budget is, it's important to let your employees know how thankful you are for their hard work. Even a small token of appreciation will build goodwill. It might sound cliché, but it truly is the thought that counts.

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