Given the current challenging economic situation, your employees may look forward to (and perhaps even depend on) a holiday bonus this year. If a staff member has an out-of-work spouse, for example, a little extra cash might make the difference between buying gifts or not, between turkey with all the trimmings or not. That said, if you feel your team is, for the most part, doing okay financially and you’d like to offer something unique to show appreciation this year, there are plenty of options to consider.
First, poll or informally ask around the office to determine what employees prefer. The answer may indeed be good old fashioned cash or a gift card that can be used anywhere (such as a MasterCard® or VISA® card). But if the majority of people are open to other possibilities, consider these.
The gift of time. Give every staff member one full day or two half-days off (paid, of course) anytime between mid-November and mid-January. Yes, this is a busy time in many offices, but if you plan ahead you should be able to juggle the schedule. While one employee might use his or her time off to do holiday shopping during the week when the stores are less crowded, another might choose to attend a function at their child’s school or enjoy a quiet day at home doing holiday baking.
The gift of pampering. Who doesn’t enjoy a massage, facial, or mani-pedi? Work out a volume discount with a local day spa and give each staff member a certificate for their choice of treatments. If you can justify closing the office on a Friday afternoon, consider making a group trip to the spa, followed by a light, catered buffet at someone’s home.
The gift of gathering. If you typically host a holiday party, get creative this year. Instead of the usual office potluck, hors d’oeuvres and drinks at the pub around the corner, or plated dinner in a hotel banquet room, consider making the holiday gathering a participatory event. Hire a local florist to teach everyone to make seasonal wreathes, take a group cooking class, or get a block of tickets for a community theatre performance or sporting event (and pick up the tab for babysitting if the outing isn’t suitable for children).
The gift of giving. In lieu of bonuses, gifts, or events for staff, check with local charities about what your practice could do as a group to assist a family or organization in need. Many communities have “Adopt a Family” programs to help struggling families provide toys for the children and food for a special meal during the holiday season.