In the world of HR, Christmas bonuses (i.e. how, when, why and if they should be awarded!) is a controversial topic. So, to help out all the business owners and managers out there with an impending headache, we’ve put our heads together here at Sapience HR. Here are our thoughts on genuine morale-boosting bonus ideas which won’t leave anyone down in the dumps this Christmas.

Why are Christmas bonuses such a seasonal melodrama?

There’s no denying that cash bonuses can be great in some circumstances. An unexpectedly large pay packet just before Christmas will see your team heading off for the holidays with a spring in their step, although there’s every chance they will have forgotten all about it come January 4th.

Christmas gifts and bonuses can pose a seasonal headache

However, more often than not bonuses are problematic and many employers resent any existing precedent set for them. Rarely can small businesses afford to give substantial bonuses across their whole team, so they can often have the affect of undermining morale rather than boosting it.

If you’re facing this dilemma right now, try listening to your employee voice. Ask a cross-section of team members one to one, what would make a real difference to them? Explain that you want to reward them in a meaningful way for their hard work, so want to hear their thoughts.

A few informal chats with team members will help gauge the general feeling

In the meantime, here are some ideas for genuine mood-boosters which will get your team off to a great start in the New Year.

  • Reinforce your ethical and sustainable credentials with an eco-friendly, locally sourced gift instead of a nominal bonus. From local food hampers to organic skincare products, there are loads of gifts out there that show appreciation and environmental awareness.
  • Arrange a team experience instead. If you’re considering a team get-together as a reward this festive season, we strongly advise you to read this blog first. Put wellbeing at the centre of your plans for that long-lasting, feel-good factor. A team cookery class or wreath making session are our two favourites ideas at the moment…
  • Invest in something which will improve the workplace experience. When money is tight, there’s often greater value in clubbing the cash together to everyone’s greater benefit. One of our clients had some useful thoughts on this:

“One year our team said they wanted a shower installed at work so they could run/bike into the office or exercise in their lunchbreaks, so we did that instead. The effect on the mental and physical health of the team, plus energy levels and staff morale, is the gift that keeps on giving!”

  • Gift an experience. As tempting as it is to buy everyone a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, these are easily forgotten gestures, especially at a time when we all tend to overindulge anyway. A voucher for a meal, spa treatment, or a family day out are all great examples of things people really value.
  • Invest in monthly rewards for your team. Rather than a one-off gift or bonus, why not reward your team with a monthly subscription such as a gourmet meal delivery service, local food box, a flower box subscription, or a monthly book club membership? That way your team will enjoy a constant reminder of their intrinsic value.

Who wouldn’t love a monthly food box delivery to boast wellbeing?

For more useful HR insights keep checking back to our blog page, where new articles are added every month.