It's customary for businesses to spread holiday cheer among their employees usually in the form of holiday bonuses. It not only shows your appreciation for another long and productive work year, but can often be expected from the people who work for you.
But what if you are not a major corporation with a lot of extra cash to spare? How can you show your employees you care without ending up looking like Ebenezer Scrooge?
There is some merit in the saying, "it's the thought that counts." If you cannot offer bonuses then do the next best thing: get creative and provide your employees with low-cost gifts.
In one of my businesses, I knew that I would not be able to give much money for the holidays, so instead, I purchased a spa day and we closed the office and went together as a team. This ended up being so successful that the staff looked forward to doing it each year and picking the different services they wanted. It was a great bonding experience and a way to relieve stress during a strenuous time of year.
Another option is to find low-cost ways to give back during the coming new year and offer perks that focus on improving your team's work-life balance. Rather than being a one-time gift, this can serve as a constant reminder that you appreciate your team's effort and personal wellness beyond December 25th.
Here are some inexpensive ideas you can offer as a "gift card" for 2018:
1. Offer more flex time options.
Gift your team the option to adjust their work schedules to work half-day Fridays, leave two hours early one day a week, or work remotely once a week.
2. Provide free lunch once a month.
Bring in a meal for everyone once a month and perhaps encourage a group meal to spark more social connections. You also could have a theme each month and match it with specific foods to create a more celebratory environment. Kickoff the first one during the holidays.
3. Negotiate perks with local businesses.
Do you have other businesses in your neighborhood that you can promote? See if they will provide discounts to your employees and choose to buy gift certificates from them for your team. You'll give their business a small boost and please your employees--it's a win-win for everyone.
4. Give time off with a twist.
Give each employee an extra day off to do something fun in the coming year and share their experience. The San Francisco-based company Blurb, an online platform for self-publishing books, takes an interesting approach to paid time off. Employees are given the day off as well as the funds to enjoy a relaxing day trip like visiting a spa or going to the movies or some other venture of their choice.
5. Create an employee awards program.
My team loves to get recognition. At my yoga studio during the holidays, we survey our customers to vote on which person should get which award. That way the customers get involved too and they love to see the results. We mix it with a potluck lunch and do a Chinese gift exchange as well.
6. Offer chair massages.
Many massage centers offer day-long workplace chair massage services.
7. Provide onsite laundry service.
Anything that can help people save time is always appreciated. Enlist a laundry service to pick up employees' clothes and drop them back at work.
8. Make car care and service convenient.
Some companies can come to your place of business to take care of routine care like oil changes. Better yet, hire a car wash and detail service to offer on-site cleanings. Or if you have a parking garage, pay for their parking charges in the coming year.
The holidays may only come once a year, but goodwill toward your team should be spread throughout the year. Many times, a small (and inexpensive) gesture can go a long way to showing how much you care. It's also important to never forget the power of two words: thank you. People forget about monetary value quickly, but they always remember the daily experience they have working as a part of your business.