Holiday Bonus Ideas: How to Show Your Employees Some Love

Holiday cookies are a nice workplace treat.

Your staff works hard. How can you thank them for their efforts? A holiday bonus can help them stay productive throughout the year. But if your business’ bottom line can’t support a cash gift, there are other ways to thank your workers for jobs well done.

Conveying that appreciation can help the company, too, according to a 2013 Glassdoor poll. Out of more than 2,000 employees surveyed, 81% said that “they’re motivated to work harder when the boss shows an appreciation of their work,” writes Jacquelyn Smith in Forbes.

1. Show you have the "write" stuff

Sending a handwritten thank-you note can be a surprising but heartfelt gesture. "The time it takes to sit down and write a personalized note says a lot,” says Kara Simon, the general manager of the incentive company 3Cheers!, quoted in CIO. "By expressing application in a personal note, the recipient will feel appreciated by the effort and motivated to continue to go above and beyond."

2. Feed your people

Food can help unify your staff as they eat together during a special workday breakfast or lunch. But complimentary snacks — such as holiday cookies or fresh fruit — can help raise morale, too.

“Never underestimate the power of food, especially when it's free!" says Grubhub's senior vice president Karen Miller, in CIO. Meals can be held offsite at a restaurant or other venue, or could be lunch cooked by all the managers in your company and served at the office, says Julie Tappero for West Sound Workforce. Just ensure your employees celebrate together in a central area. “If you go this route, remember that it’s not much fun to eat in your cubicle,” writes Tappero. “Make sure to decorate and turn the event into something special.”

3. Give meaningful gifts

While nearly anyone can use a grocery store gift card, people’s tastes differ. It can be tricky to buy cards to other stores. For the worker who has allergies or is dieting, restaurant or coffee shop gift cards might not be appreciated.

“When you have taken the time to get to know what matters most to your employee, consider purchasing a gift that really matters to the employee that you are thanking,” says Roberta Matuson in Fast Company. “Perhaps it’s two tickets to a sold-out performance of one of their favorite artists, or a copy of a rare book they’ve been trying to find for their collection. This type of offering will demonstrate that your gift is from the heart and not just something taken from petty cash.”

4. Give time outs — for good behavior

Allowing for a half or full day off around a holiday is one of the most appreciated perks, according to the Glassdoor survey. More than 60% of those surveyed say they would love to take a day off to help ease holiday preparations or for travel plans. If you can’t have so many people away from work, consider telecommuting.

Of those surveyed, 13% say they’d appreciate being able to work from home the week of Thanksgiving.

Cheryl Alkon is a freelance writer who has written for publications including USA Today, The New York Times,, More, Women’s Day, ENT Today, and Oncology Business Management. Find her at
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author, publisher nor Triad Digital Media, LLC d/b/a Triad Retail Media warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.

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