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How to give a Holiday Bonus on a Budget

The holiday bonus is carrying a lot more weight this year. With financial concerns at an all-time high, many employees may find themselves eager to receive an additional monetary gift more than ever this holiday season. And while WorkNest found that nearly a third (30%) of employers are planning on giving staff one-off bonuses, this still leaves a majority of companies who either do not have the means to offer one or have not considered it.

However, an end of year bonus doesn’t necessarily have to be money. Whether you are a small organization who cannot afford to offer gifts, or you would like to give something a little different this year, here are some fun and cost-friendly alternatives to show employees gratitude this time of year:

  1. Gift card and handwritten note – it does not have to be a high dollar value, but it will still help leaders convey appreciation for their teams. A small Starbucks gift card and an accompanying, individualized note can easily put a smile on someone’s face, especially when they treat themselves to a holiday beverage.
  2. Or even just a card – if the budget is very tight, even a heart-felt card to each member of staff helps to show the appreciation being held for them. Taking the time to write each one and add in a unique detail will demonstrate how well a manager knows their employees and will make them feel seen and valued.
  3. Get creative– Leverage your creativity and gift something handmade to your employees this holiday season. If you are a business that operates remotely, use your design skills by putting together fun, personalized backgrounds for each team member. Use the background to showcase positive feedback or accomplishments highlighting employees’ most impactful achievements throughout the year. Handmade gifts are one of the best ways to show gratitude for your team. The time dedicated to each individual’s gift speaks volumes about your commitment and appreciation.
  4. Virtual holiday party – if the budget for an end of year staff party is tight, then why not consider hosting it online? Encourage those that wish to attend to slip on a quirky jumper or ugly sweater, change their Zoom or Teams background to something from their festive beliefs and host a virtual game of Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire? to get everyone involved. Check out our tips and tricks for hosting a fun and appropriate holiday staff party here!
  5. Host an awards ceremony – Take a new twist on things. A team awards ceremony is a great activity that can be done in person or online. To coincide with awards season, why not set up your own mock red carpet? Whether you deck out with a buffet and drinks or just keep it simple, this is an innovative way of showing gratitude to your team and gives you the opportunity to have a good laugh as a team with fun awards!
  6. Or, if you do have more of a budget…there are a variety of things that can be offered in exchange of a monetary bonus that can prove to be more thoughtful and sincere, while still being relatively budget friendly. For example, planning an activity to do together, such as a curated beer/wine tasting (in person or virtual!) or something more physical (bowling, escape room). And, if you are a remote company, there are plenty of virtual experiences that everyone can take part in – this could be anything from a virtual cooking class to an interactive online murder mystery party.
  7. Make it meaningful – Those looking to give back to the community whilst providing a cheery team building experience this season should consider stepping away from the office and volunteering together. Employees can appreciate the time away knowing it’s for a meaningful cause. Another idea is using a service like Packed with Purpose, which allows employees to curate their own gift box full of a variety of goodies while supporting a variety of social and environmental causes. So, while the gift is thoughtful and individual, it is also having a positive social impact. Demonstrating the company’s alignment with personal values is becoming more attractive to talent, especially across the younger generations in the workforce. Something as simple as making a donation to a charitable organization of an employee’s choosing can go a long way, as it shows how important their social values are to you as an employer. Opting for these more meaningful gifts that give back is an excellent way for companies to demonstrate the investment that they have in their employee’s social values.

Whichever way an organization chooses to show their appreciation for their employees this holiday season, there is one key piece of advice that leaders need to remember:

It’s all about the messaging. As with any reward or recognition, the communication which accompanies the gift is very important. Ensure that any gift, activity or experience substituted for a monetary reward clearly expresses gratitude and shows how you have your employees’ interests front of mind when choosing them. Happy employees will lead to healthy business – and this is the ultimate goal.

If you would like to get in touch or need further guidance on how to approach an end of year bonus, you can contact me at alisa.cardenas@orgshakers.com

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

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