Will You Get a Holiday Bonus?

If you’re one of the growing number of independent consultants and small business owners, you’ll decide on your own terms what you deserve (and can afford) for a holiday bonus. More than likely it will be a day-off or maybe some new technology to assist you in your business growth.

If you’re a member of the corporate world or an employee at a small business, you’ll have no say in what you get for (or even if you get) a holiday bonus. This recent article by Marilyn Gardner in the Christian Science Monitor explores all sides of the subject. She shows the inconsistencies that are often applied to the whole process, and suggests that many companies are eliminating holiday bonuses completely.

Should holiday bonuses be performance-based, proportionate to longevity with the company, or considered at all? If they’re considered should the bonus come in the form of cash, gift cards or products? Should holiday bonuses be handled by the Santa Claus principle on whether you’ve been naughty or nice? Or on the shopping-happy theory where one size fits all?

This is the time of year that many employees are disappointed no matter what the business leaders decide on the subject. If Susie Secretary finds out that Tom Techie got more of a monetary bonus than she, even though she’s been employed there 10 years longer, she is upset. Susie won’t necessarily stop to think that Tom’s new super-duper security encoded program that he worked on for umpteen hours brought the company thousands in increased revenue this last quarter. When Doorman Dan, who lives alone in a rented room gets a  20# turkey, he probably wishes they had given him a gift card for dinner instead.

Some businesses choose to donate to community funds or Santa drives as a way to avoid the whole issue of how much or what to give to employees. The gift is given in honor of all employees, but often without employee input. Company holiday parties are sometimes held in place of giving individual bonuses.  

Good leaders will spend some time making the right decision on holiday bonuses. What worked (either financially or socially) last year may not work this year. Smart employees learn not to automatically expect a holiday bonus, but to pay attention to their organization’s seasonal attitudes. It can be reflective of the company’s year-round tone. Responsible leaders need to recognize employees often, and the holiday season is a good time to spend some time  doing that – whether it’s through words of appreciation or a fat envelope filled with green.


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