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Seven Holiday Bonus Alternatives: Being Santa, Even When Times Are Tight

December 18, 2013

By: Jennifer Lucas

Holiday Bonus Alternatives

Holiday bonuses alternatives are great way to spread a little cheer and recognize employees’ efforts throughout the year. Besides, it’s fun to give, and people appreciate being appreciated...a FREE employee motivator!

The economy is looking up, and more employers are finding a little extra in the budget to slip a check under the tree (or in an envelope, which is a little more direct and less creepy). According to a Career Builder survey, about half of business owners planned to offer holiday perks in the form of bonuses, parties or gifts in 2013. This is holding steady from last year.

But if money is still a little tighter than you'd like, don’t despair. There are other ways to say “Ho ho ho!”


1. Time off: Offer some extra vacation time to spend with their friends and family. Yeah, money is nice, but many would be thrilled to have a few extra hours dealing with their overwhelming holiday to-do lists while cutting down stress in the workplace.
2. A gift: If you can manage a few dollars per person, how about giving some chocolates, coffee or a bottle of wine. Look for deals or bulk discounts to stretch your buck further. Decorate the presents with a pretty ribbon, and add a little card to let them know you care...a little extra effort goes a long way!
3. Open late, or close early: See item 1. Giving people the chance to sleep in a little or cut out while the traffic is light (and before the mall is overrun) will make you a hero. This may be a great solution for companies that experience a lull in business during November and December.
4. A holiday gathering: It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Arrange a potluck, and set aside a couple of hours for everyone to spend mingling and praising one another’s cooking (or purchasing) skills. Let them dress down, or encourage them to dress up and show their style. A festive get together is a great way to build a sense of team.
5. On-site relaxation or pampering: Hire someone to come in and give chair massages, yoga or relaxation classes or even mani/pedis! You can cut a good deal with a service provider looking to get some name recognition and word-of-mouth referrals. Benefit: More relaxed and productive employees, as long as they don’t fall asleep!
6. A movie or snack break: Put that projector in the meeting room to a better use than another round of PowerPoint slides. Pop some popcorn and play a classic holiday flick. Alternately, have one or many executives go from desk to desk offering a choice of healthy, or not so healthy snacks.
7. Prize drawings: If you can’t get a lavish present for everyone, give everyone the chance to win one. Gift cards, plane tickets or electronics make great prizes; throw in a couple of half-day or casual-day coupons, and give people even more of an opportunity to win something. It makes for a fun, exciting diversion.


While you're at it, consider offering employees a chance to give back as well. Sponsor a food or toy drive. Provide matching donations to charities or let them volunteer during work time. Giving makes people feel happy, promotes good health and fosters a feeling of gratitude. All excellent holiday bonuses!


Want to learn a bit more about what makes your employees feel happy?  

Omnia Behavioral Assessments can help!



Jennifer Lucas

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