The season will be a little brighter for most of the workforce this year. According to the 2016 Holiday Bonus and Hiring Survey conducted by the Accounting Principals, 75% of HR and hiring managers said their company plans to give employees monetary holiday bonuses this year, up from 67% last year. And bonuses are predicted to be bigger, rising to $1,081 on average from $858 in 2015. 29% plan to give employees $1,000 or more.
If your company is within the minority this year, don’t fret. It’s best to maintain a sense of transparency with your employees so that they are prepared. Employees will generally base their holiday bonus expectations on what they received in past years. If there will be a significant change, it’s best to be up front early on.
You don’t want a situation like the one portrayed in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In the film, Clark Griswold eagerly awaits his holiday bonus—the same generous one he’s been getting for the past 17 years—only to learn that this year, it’s a membership to the Jelly of the Month Club.
Alternatives to Monetary Holiday Bonuses
The same Accounting Principals survey revealed that 39% of the businesses who will not give out monetary bonuses do plan on spreading holiday cheer throughout the office with other perks. If you choose to go the non-monetary bonus route, we’ve put together a list of alternatives that will make your employees equally as merry.
Go with a Gift
While personalized gifts are a great option, like a monogrammed journal or tote bag, now is not the time to give apparel or merchandise emblazoned with your company’s logo. Consider giving a gift card to a nearby restaurant or store. You may even be able to barter with local businesses if your company can provide a product or service in exchange. Remember it’s the thought, not the size (or amount) that matters.
Throw a Memorable Holiday Party
Rather than skimp with a few sandwich trays in the break room, treat your employees to a party that shows them they are appreciated. Hire a caterer, bring in a professional therapist to give back rubs, or rent a photo booth. Better yet, choose an off-site venue like a private room in an upscale restaurant, a comedy club, an escape room, or go to a concert or sporting event. Just be sure to choose an activity that will appeal to all.
Reward Extra Time Off
According to CareerBuilder’s Annual Study, in 2015 employees most often called out sick during the month of December (21%). Despite higher absentee rates during the holiday season, only 8% of employees admitted to faking being sick during this time. Of those who did, 76% said they did it to spend time with family and friends, while others used it to shop (12%) or decorate for the season (9%).
Giving employees a floating bonus day that they can use around the holidays to tend to personal matters will not only make them happy, it’ll also cut down on unwarranted sick days.
Add a Permanent Benefit
Monetary bonuses, while well-received, are quickly forgotten. Instead, treat your employees to a benefit they can enjoy year-round like a complimentary gym membership, a weekly bagel breakfast or pizza lunch, or a break room upgrade (think premium coffee and tea selection, a ping pong table, and comfortable chairs).