Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Alternatives to Holiday Bonuses

The holiday bonus: a not-so-subtle stocking stuffer to show your staff you appreciate all of their contributions to the company over the past year. And while a few extra bucks on their paycheck can make for some happy employees, the battle over how much the bonus should be and on what it should be based can put a damper on the holiday spirit. Plus, cash can be boring.

So how do you avoid the ubiquity and difficulty of the standard holiday bonus? Here are three alternative gifts you and your employees may find more appealing:

More Stake in the Company

Equity splits are the new stock options. So if your employees weren't part of a founder equity split already, cutting them in on an ownership share of the company is a great way to both demonstrate your appreciation for the past work and motivate their future efforts. And fortunately there are now more tools available to help determine an employee's value to the company and translate that into an ownership stake. Dynamic equity splits allow you to set a relative value based on someone's background, experience, and job responsibilities, and then assign equity according to their worth to the company.

More Benefits

More often than ever, employees are looking beyond the dollars and cents of salary at the kind of benefits a company can offer. Of course there are the obvious health plans and 401(k)s, so maybe look at adding or increasing some other benefits to keep your valued employees happy. Expanding telecommuting options, lump sum contributions to retirement plans, and even student loan or tuition reimbursement can be just as or more valuable to your employees than a holiday bonus check.

More Vacation

If you love your employees you probably want them working more, not less. But there can be benefits to your company by giving your employees more, and more consecutive, vacation time. Even though you may not be legally required to offer paid vacation time, giving employees time to relax and recharge (without taking a salary hit) may be a boon for your business in the long run.

Make sure you keep whatever alternative to the holiday bonus legal and consult with an experienced local employment attorney before revamping your bonus plans and policies.

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