Year-End Bonuses: Give Employees What They Actually Want Virtual Incentives Blog

Year-End Bonuses: Give Employees What They Actually Want

Most employees look forward to a bonus or some display of appreciation around the holidays, and there’s a number of ways that employers can approach this end-of-year expectation. But be aware — gifts aren’t always received the way you might hope. For all you bosses and HR departments out there, we’ve outlined the good, the bad and the greedy when it comes to holiday bonuses.

The Good

Gifts that almost every employee can get behind.

  • Cold Hard Cash
    With an apparent 34% of employees preferring cash for their holiday bonus, a nice chunk of change is hard to mess up. It doesn’t have to be actual paper money either. Virtual gift cards offer an arguably greater level of flexibility since they can be spent instantly online.
  • Extra Time Off
    If time is money, then time off is basically free money. Outdoor companies like Burton and REI are known for offering their employees paid time off to go skiing and spend company time in the great outdoors. You can’t put a price on fresh air — except maybe a full day’s salary.
  • Genuinely Thoughtful Gifts
    Some of the best gifts are the ones with some thought behind them. If you run a series of record stores, chances are your employees enjoy listening to music. So maybe you should leverage that information to offer concert tickets to a local show of their choice. A small amount of consideration can lead to large amount of employee appreciation.

The Bad

There are wrong ways to handle holiday bonuses, and these are a few.

  • Whatever’s Convenient
    Don’t take the easy way out. It will be transparent to the gift recipient, and won’t garner any gratitude in return. Just because your company has a partnership with a clothing company doesn’t mean you should give employees branded t-shirts for the holidays.
  • Something Random
    We’ve already suggested giving something thoughtful, but at the very least you should give a minimal amount of consideration to your present. If you give your employee a cheese of the month club membership, you should verify that they aren’t vegan. Otherwise, you’d be better off giving nothing at all.
  • A Holiday Party
    There’s something to be said for the camaraderie that company-sponsored parties can bring, but only 1% of employees would prefer an event in lieu of an actual bonus. So unless you can do both, save the team-building and morale-boosters for another time — the holidays are for giving and showing appreciation.

The Greedy

Take it from us — you don’t want to be known as the company Scrooge.

  • The Bare Minimum
    If you give employees just enough of a bonus to say that you technically handed out a bonus, that behavior can be (and should be) viewed as insulting. Let’s say that you run an office that pulls in large sums of revenue month after month. Consider giving your hard-working employees something more than a $5 gift card.
  • Nothing
    Unless you genuinely can’t afford to dole out year-end bonuses, this is the end-all-be-all of selfishness. Many people have quit after not receiving any holiday bonus, and it’s not about the lack of money — it’s about the apparent lack of appreciation from their superiors.
  • Fruit Cakes: No one likes fruit cakes. No one. End of story.

So as the end of the year comes to a close, try choosing something that your employees will appreciate and get some use out of.