The Truth About Holiday Bonuses

When it comes to holiday bonuses, some employees tend to count on them as part of their salaries (as evidenced quite clearly by Clark Griswold in the holiday classic, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”). But, in a difficult economy, are they really necessary?

What is the standard on holiday bonuses?

There is no federal or state law that says holiday bonuses are required, so you have no legal reason to give them to your employees. But, there are intangible benefits to giving a little extra to your employees at holiday-time. Corporate culture can have a dramatic effect on productivity, and can seriously impact your bottom line.

Here are three tips to help you give your employees a holiday bonus, without breaking the bank:

  • Consider giving bonus vacation days instead. Yes, these technically cost your company; however, they do not require cutting additional checks, and often the work missed on days off is completed by that employee on his or her other days that week. So, rather than give a cash holiday bonus, consider offering one or more bonus vacation days for 2012 (depending on how many days your company can afford to “give”).
  • Give something “thoughtful.” This is easier for small businesses, but offering a small, but personal gift to employees can have a more profound impact than a large check. If your company is larger, consider having department heads take care of this part. Take the time to know and understand your employees, then provide a small gift that has a personal touch to it. Your employees will feel genuinely appreciated.
  • Provide a team bonus. Rather than dole out individual gifts or checks, why not consider offering a large-scale team activity later in the winter. Everyone has experienced the post-holiday blues from time to time, so having a fun outing to look forward to later in the winter or early spring can be a nice way to keep some pep in your employees’ step.

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