December 6, 2011

Holiday Gifts for Your Employees

By Paul Bieber

All right, who are you?

  • Old Man Scrooge
  • A Hard Working Joe
  • Part of the 1/10th of 1

Old Man Scrooge wouldn’t own a computer. If your are in the 1/10th, you won’t be reading this blog. So, you are a Hard Working Joe.

Looking at the calendar, it is time to decide on your holiday gift program for your employees. Yes, it was a very tough year for most of us. (In my consulting business, we have one full-time employee, my wife Elaine. I told her that she was getting a new set of flannel PJs. Without the feet. It was a tough year.)

Your employees know the year you have had. Nonetheless, they do expect something. You have given a cash gift for years, and just about everyone counts on the bonus for their holiday budgeting.

If you had a good year, then surely thanking your employees should be high on your list. Giving a gift to smiling employee is better than giving to an ornery, back-charging customer. The customer won’t change their attitude, while giving to an employee is the perfect investment in your company.

But, and there is always a but, for the 85% of us who didn’t have a good year, what do we do? You need some kind of plan for your gift-giving. The easy way out, give everyone a week’s pay. This way is simple and won’t cause waves. The more complicated, but in the long-run, much better way, is to set a budget, maybe equal to the one week payroll, and then give more to the people that worked their hearts out, and less to the folks that are out the door at 5:00 on the second.

This takes more work: good employee reviews, solid feedback sessions, and speaking with the grumpy people who get less than the full week. You will be a hero to some folks, but Scrooge to others. People will say you gave more to Stan because he supports the Mets, or seriously, some will make claims of prejudice on your part. You have to decide if the reward and encouragement to the stars on your team are worth the effort.

For my part, I feel it is worth the effort…provided you have the employee reviews in file. Recognizing the hard workers is worth it. They will continue to work hard. But if everyone gets the same amount, what is the incentive to work hard? Sure there is self-pride, but at this time of the year, cash is king.

What if the year says your bonuses/gifts have to cut down. Tell your people ASAP; don’t wait for the day you hand out the checks. Families will need to adjust their budgets. If you do cut gifts, don’t under any circumstances, get a new car for yourself, redecorate your office, or buy new equipment in December, under he guise of spending money before the tax-year ends. You will never see worse morale if gifts are cut and other spending goes on.