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Christmas Bonuses?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the what-should-santa-give-you-this-year dept.

Christmas Cheer 320

An anonymous reader asks: "I run a small startup company who was able to turn a buck during this past year. To say 'Thank you' to the employees who put in so much time and effort to get us financially stable I would like to give them a Christmas bonus. However, I've never received one before, so what is appropriate? I have 5 employees and I want to give them all the same bonus, but while I can afford about $1500 a person, is that too much? Would gifts be more appropriate then money? What are some bonuses the Slashdot crowd has received in the past?"

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320 comments

Partials (4, Insightful)

man_ls (248470) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344574)

How about, divide profit by 2, then divide that by the # of people to get a bonus?

I think that $500/person would be quite acceptable...

Re:Partials (4, Insightful)

saden1 (581102) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344644)

The more you give the more your employees will appreciate you. If they know how much profit you've made don't short change them. Give them the maximum you can give. If they don't it's still a good I idea to let them feel appreciated. A happy employee is a happy worker.

Re:Partials (1)

Golthar (162696) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345348)

Sounds pretty good.
Over here in the Netherlands, my christmas bonus is detailed in my contract.
Im always assured of the standard 1200$

Re:Partials (1)

mjpaci (33725) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346229)

Then that is not a bonus, it is deferred compensation.

How we work (1)

rsturbonutter (518391) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345503)

I work in the UK and we just got our Q3 bonus. How it works at our company (Business ISP) is as follows:

Our bonus is based on 20% of our annual salary, or 5% of our annual salary every quarter

Based on how well we do, we get a percentage of the bonus - for example this quarter our division is getting an 80% bonus - so in effect 80% of 5% of our salary - depending on how well we do the bonus % changes - one country did really well adn is getting a 125% bonus!!!

Makes it fair to be tied into salary, and also into business performance!

Re:Partials (1)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346727)

Is this story for real? An actual boss who may give a bonus? Is he hiring?

cash (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344575)

Give them the cash. Cash bonuses to workers are not too uncommon, and no employee will ever complain about a cash bonus. Plus, they get to spend it how they see fit, and would be better than a single type of bonus. Id reccommend cash, the more the merrier. On a side note, bloody good on you for giving them a bonus.

Re:cash (4, Insightful)

BladeMelbourne (518866) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345105)

I would recommend the following:

* have an awesome Christmas party for employee's and their significant others (~$150-$250 per couple)

* upgrade employee's computers/software where they desire (~$600)

* give them the rest in $cash.

Let your employees know how much you value their contributions and friendship. Give each a Christmas card with a meaningful message.

With luck, every employee will be with you next year. Make sure they know that "this year has been good for the company." If you do this, you will not set up expectations for following years, especially if your company does not do as well.

PS: You don't have an office in Melbourne, Australia do you?

Re:cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7345385)

You just watched Angel, didn't you?

has to be said... (4, Funny)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344578)

Will you hire me? ;-)

My company (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7344584)

At the engineering company where I work, Christmas bonuses are usually between 0.5x and 3x a full-month's pay, depending on performance (of the individual and the company). $1500 does not sound unreasonable to me.

As an employee... (1, Insightful)

Zelet (515452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344596)

If you are a small company I think even $1000 is too much. Don't forget to reinvest. Give them $500 or something like that - they will love it.

Re:As an employee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7344824)

Why the hell is this modded as flamebait?

Re:As an employee... (1)

Zelet (515452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345699)

Flaimbait? Huh? I am serious. $1500 is HUGE for a small business. As an employee I would be so happy with $500. Small businesses always have to reinvest profits so that they stay ahead of the competition.

happy, happy, joy, joy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7344597)

I happen to work for a great place that has, for years, given a flat 5% of yearly salary for christmas bonus for all employees. I return the favor with my loyalty and hard work.

Re:happy, happy, joy, joy (1)

Knetzar (698216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345488)

I just don't understand this. Why give a 5% christmas bonus instead of just raising the salary by 5%? If one year you didn't get that bonus I bet you'd be pissed, and I for one wouldn't give more loyalty to a company that gave me a 5% bonus verse a company that just added that 5% to my salary.

Can someone explain to me the benifits of a bonus over an increase in pay? Am I missing something?

Re:happy, happy, joy, joy (1)

Makoss (660100) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345572)

You sarcasm detector seems to be broken, you might want to look into getting that fixed.

Split it up (5, Insightful)

arrow (9545) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344627)

Take that $1500 per employee, give them a $500 or so christmas bonus, then save the rest for further bonuses.

One thing I really like about my employer is we get a christmas bonus, a back to school bonus, a summer bonus, etc. They are all in the couple hundred dollar range, but they alwas seem to come at the right times, and everyone appricates it.

Good for you! (2, Informative)

penguin_punk (66721) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344629)

As a lowly emplyee, I highly respect the fact you are doing this. Congrats!

I've been at the same job for 3 1/2 years and three years ago I received about $400 I believe, and then $0 and $0, even though I got 'promoted' and we're making more money. It's a small company and I feel like shit because I also probably haven't received a raise in that long as well. Anyways, /end rant

$1500 sounds awsome!

Re:Good for you! (2, Insightful)

IWorkForMorons (679120) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346738)

Hell...I can beat that...

I work for an insurance company. For the past three years, the big boss has been telling us about all these different client contracts that we've been getting, and we're making bigger and bigger profits all the time. In the three years I've been here, this is what I've gotten:

1st Christmas: $50, while everyone else got $100 because I hadn't been there for the minimum 3 months.

2nd Christmas: Two movie passes

3rd Christmas: The boss walked around handing out cookies. One per person...

This year, I'm expecting nada as a bonus. Oh, and maybe a uplifting speech from the CEO telling us to keep up the good work and keep our clients happy. Why, I feel so good about keeping our clients happy that that's all the bonus I need.

Now where'd I leave that can of lighter fluid...

Staff are your greatest asset (1)

quinkin (601839) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344639)

My advice: Give them the money. If the company can afford it, it is the best investment you will make.

Staff are the true assets of companies (especially tech companies) and deserve to be treated as such. Show them how much you appreciate them.

Why am I so sure? Because my resignation has brought more than one company to the brink of bankruptcy (despite my best efforts to train replacements etc.).

Q.

Re:Staff are your greatest asset (1)

Fubar420 (701126) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346681)

Or does that simply mean you bailed at the right times? ;-)

Regional Economy (3, Interesting)

_iris (92554) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344651)

Obviously how exorbant a $1,500 bonus is depends on the regional economy. $1,500 would be a dream come true for me, here in Wisconsin. If you're in California, I'd say $1,000 would be a good bonus.

Of course, this assumes they don't have some form of profit sharing. If they do, cut it in half.

Give whatever you feel they deserve. (4, Insightful)

stienman (51024) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344662)

I've never received larger than 2% of my salary during bonus time. I suspect $500 is 'enough', but if you can afford to give $1,500, then why not? There is no such thing as 'too much' unless it means you'll have to skimp on other business needs next year.

You might also consider giving gifts in addition to a bonus. The percieved value of a gift is often greater than it's actual cost - spend $400 on an IPOD for each employee and give them a $500 bonus.

Just don't give them gifts that are directly related to their daily work - it'll seem cheap (ie, never give your wife a vacuum cleaner as a 'gift', under pain of death)

-Adam

Re:Give whatever you feel they deserve. (1)

buttahead (266220) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344891)

worthy of "sig" status:
never give your wife a vacuum cleaner as a 'gift', under pain of death

And I agree completely... a somewhat useful gift is more valuable than the cash equivilent. See my other post here...

if you can't give a useful gift, try to give that bonus as a fist full of dollars rather than as a printed check. the bonus becomes more tangible and the day you hand out the bonus, everyone's moral skyrockets.

extra points if you can get everyone to roll around in a pile of $20 bills.

Re:Give whatever you feel they deserve. (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345286)

And if you do decide to come up with a method of calculating the bonuses, get all of them in a room and explain how it's going to be done so everyone knows it up front. During the year, you can give everyone a status update. They will know as the company does better, the better their bonus. It can be a trip to get a bonus that's 1/3 of your normal salary when the company has a great year. Well, that is until the Feds take their share. =(

Re:Give whatever you feel they deserve. (1)

johndoejersey (679948) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345891)

Agree with this 100%.

Personally, the only greater motivator than financial recompense is the feeling that an individuals actions play an important part in the day to day running of the business.

dot com days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7344679)

Back in the dot com days, I think I got a small So. Pacific Island for a bonus and a roll of stock options.

Last year I just got a lousy iPod and ~$1500.

Careful (4, Insightful)

etymxris (121288) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344681)

Last Christmas everyone at our small (50 person) company got fairly nice bonuses. Right after the new year, several business deals fell through, and many had to be laid off. The lay-offs may have been avoided if the bonuses weren't so high. The smaller you are, and the fewer clients you have, the more likely you are to find yourself in a similar situation. So, yes, give bonuses, but don't go overboard--you and your employees may end up regretting it.

Save some for party (1)

jsse (254124) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344692)

and buy a lots of gifts for lucky draw. Nothing like the pleasure of lucky drawing. :)

My company will attach some donation forms of charities along with bonus, so that we can remember to help the needed. I'd recommend you attach these two forms:

FSF [fsf.org]
EFF [eff.org]

:)

Re:Save some for party (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344842)

Are your middle and last names evil?

Donation forms? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345339)

Although I recognize your intent, I once recieved a 'donation form' in our office mail, and it suggested that the organization had a donation plan where you could get a few dollars taken out every paycheck.

Unfortunately, as the charitable organization was the one in which I was employed, it came across to most of us as 'we're paying you too much, will you please give some of it back?'

If you're interested in a charity, make a donation in the name of the company, and be done with it. Or perhaps offer to match anyone's donations to an organization [perhaps set a cap on matching, just incase someone has some savings they decide to dump that you weren't aware of]

Re:Save some for party (3, Funny)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346686)

i'd also attach a form for the Human Fund.

My initial reaction (2, Funny)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344704)

Well, if you decide that the health of the company requires that you put some of that potential bonus money away for future needs... you better hope none of your employees reads Slashdot and gets bitter that they didn't get the full $1500!

Keep it simple (3, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344708)

Great for you!!!!

Bonuses are great, but the have a habit of becomming an institution at many small companies that owners use to "beat-up" people with rather than simply a "gift". Example: I work at a company that used to [from older employees] give out good bonuses. Well, they use it as a "recruiting" tool [blah, blah] to get you to work there, but last year in particular, they beat everyone up all year about it. "You won't get bonus unless..." That lead to all sorts of stupid statements from management about "lazy" and "stupid" [but working 60 hrs./week!] employees. It was a nightmare...It was abusive. If they didn't want to do them, then just say so...execpt they were "promising" them with all sorts of "strings". Promise yourself right now NEVER to do that! it leads to a good thing for the employees just turning you into a tightwad arse. If you're going to do it, make it no-strings-attached, this-time-only. Don't promise it if you can't expect to do it again, and don't hold it out there if you don't intend to deliver...

in short, keep it simple.

Sales sharing (2, Informative)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344717)

The company I work for has a sales sharing plan paid out every two quarters. Of course one of these coincides with Christmas. A portion of the revenues are shared equally among all employees with over a year of service. Employees under a year of service get a half share (prorated for the first half year). Fortunately we are having one of our best years ever and the summer bonus was excellent. The X-mass bonus is predicted to be even better. In the past the bonus has been both below and above $1500.00 CDN. Therefore the amount suggested by the story poster is in my opinion quite respactable. I do suggest that in the future the poster should tie the bonus to the company's performance by a mathematical formula so that there is a definite motivational reason for the employees to put forth that little bit extra.

Re:Sales sharing (0, Troll)

GoRK (10018) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345521)

$1500.00 CDN .. so that's about, what, $375 bucks or so? haha

The more bonuses, the better (4, Interesting)

msuzio (3104) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344730)

I agree with those advocating about a $500 bonus, and keeping some of that money back for future "incentives". $500 is a great bonus for a small business to be able to manage, so the employees will appreciate it. Then, with the rest of the money, you'll be able to save up and plan for future bonuses. Being able to give a bonus every 3 or 6 months is a great way to motivate people!

I've gotten $100 bonuses in the past, and although they represented maybe $1 per hour of uncompensated overtime put in, it meant something to me to at least be recognized, and to have some "mad" money to spend.

Holding back money and being able to *regularly* give bonuses helps a lot too -- once people get bonuses, especially around a certain time of the year, they get to like them... being able to make this a regular thing (given that the company has good performance) will go a long way towards retaining good employees.

No gifts (1)

TheSnakeMan (59408) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344784)

Don't buy them gifts...chances are that it will be shit they don't need, when they can probably use the money. They know how to spend the money on themselves better than you know how to spend it on them.

And no, there is no amount of money that is ever "too much".

How do you mean.. (4, Insightful)

Drakin (415182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344808)

"You can afford"?

That's the big thing. Does the company have a decent cash reserve to deal with any possible problems, as well as a stable cash flow? I'm sure that in the end, they'd prefer having a job for the long term than the cash now.

Anything in the range of one pay period should be considered a rather reasonable bonus IMO.

Standard in high tech industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7344831)

The standard in the high tech industry is 10% of annual salary IF both the company and the employee performed well during the year. Higher if profits were absolutely fantastic.

Adjust as necessary. For example if the company did OK but not great, the amount might be capped at 5%, and only employees who performed well would get that full amount. Average employees might get 2% or 3%, and low performing ones 0% to 1%. If the company did poorly, maybe you can't afford bonuses, or maybe you can give bonuses only to the very few very top performers.

huh? (1)

jag164 (309858) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344840)

What's this 'bonus' thing you speak of? A new fandangled web-technolgy I presume?

Considering that many people don't get bonuses, I'd assume any amount would be much appreciated. Then again you may get in trouble both ways. If previous employers fed gobs of bonus money to one of your workers and the other never got a holiday bonus, then to one the bonus may be an insult while the other is joyfully gracious. There's only five of you and you're probably a pretty close group, why not ask them about there previous jobs holiday bonuses.

a nice one (1)

buttahead (266220) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344858)

I and about 25 others recieved $1000 cash in 100 dollar bills and a bottle of 1990 Dom Perinon(?). That is less than your 1500$ limit, but is a nice touch. the fist full of hundreds is exciting, and the dom is something that none of them would buy by themselves, but shows that they have class (even if they don't know how to spell it...).

good for both (2, Insightful)

jjshoe (410772) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344902)

Why not bring good for both of you? If this is a tech company upgrade their workstations. This keeps the money in the company but it also boosts the moral of workers and feels like you often think about them and the long hours you put in. It would work even better if you were to suprise them with say a nice dinner, and have a bunch of new equipment at the front of the room. If you want your employees to choose have a catalog with ONLY their options avaialble to them so they can pick and choose what they want out of what you deem appropriate.

Spread it out some... (4, Insightful)

OneFix (18661) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344914)

$500 or so as a bonus, an extra day or 2 vacation at christmas time, a $100 - $200 gift for each employee, maybe throw a small holiday party for your employees and their families at a nice local hotel(where you could present their gifts and bonus checks as well as announce extra vacation time for employees). And make sure to put some away for the future.

You would know better what your employees would appreciate. 5 employees are easy to please...try pleasing 200+ employees...

By making sure to spend a little in a few different ways, each of your employees will find some benefit in the way you have spent the money. This also requires you to do a bit more work than a gift or bonus alone, but it will likely not go unnoticed.

yes it is! (4, Insightful)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344938)

That is an amount that they have to declare as income, which means that after taxes they get about 800 or 900. I'd go for something smaller. Throw a party or take them to a really, really expensive and nice restaurant. Then give them about $50 to $200 gift cards. There is an american express card that can be used like a gift card in several places. Basically 'mall money' that can be used at many mall stores. This way they get some kind of bonus but it is more of a gift that they don't have to declare on their taxes.

Re:yes it is! (1)

gallen1234 (565989) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346579)

IANAA (I am not an accountant) but my father is - he spent over 30 years with the IRS. We were actually discussing this earlier this year and his summary was: "There's no such thing as a gift from an employer to an employee." Be careful with the gift cards. I suspect they would end up being taxable.

X-mas bouneses (1)

windex82 (696915) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344951)

In the two jobs I've had that has givin bonuses, ive received an extra 100 in my paycheck for two years at one place and 50$ my first year there. And another place would have a big fancy (read: gettogether at a hall and serve horible expensive food.) dinner and 50$ gift certificates for the mall (for tech support, and the higher levels got more)

shares.. (1)

yet_another_user (513529) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344957)

How about shares or options? Given that your company is stock:ed ofcourse. Its a great way to give something to your employees and at the same time coach them to do even better in the future, since company progress means their shares rise.

My favorite bonus gift.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7344978)

What are some bonuses the Slashdot crowd has received in the past?

The finger and a pink slip. The boss called me at 3am because a virus killed his windows machine, in my delerium I told him to "stop being a cheapskate and buy a mac" like all the other lawyers I know. I was so tired at the time, upon awaking the next morning, I didn't remember the whole incident and the boss cussed me out.

consider donating part of the profits to charity (2, Interesting)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344986)

Rather than dividing up all the profits between the employees, consider giving everyone a smaller bonus (say $750 or less) and collectively deciding on a charity to give the other half to. Since there's only 5 of you it shouldn't be hard to find one to agree on.

Considering that a poor American is much better off than like 3/4 of the world, that extra money would make a huge difference in other peoples lives who are much less fortunate. Not to mention there might be a tax benefit in there. I guess consider it an alternative to putting an extra grand in people's pockets who are already "rich" by any standard in the world.

Re:consider donating part of the profits to charit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7345106)

How about giving the whole thing to the employees and letting them INDIVIDUALLY decide what charities to give to ? Why should all five have to give to the same one ? Hell, some might even give away more than half.

Count on story mentioning money to bring out the Commies. A Commie loves nothing more that telling other people what to do with their money, and if it's wrapped up in some kind of collective decision that ignores the possibility of individual action, so much the better. Decisions involving OPM (Other People's Money) attract Commies like paedophiles to a playground, always slinking around the edges and watching their chance.

Re:consider donating part of the profits to charit (1)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345392)

Okay fine, Mr. Anonymous Coward think of it this way. The owner of the company has absolute control over the money. In other words, he can do whatever he damn well pleases. He could invest it in the company. He could keep it all for himself. He has no obligation whatsoever to give it to his employees. If you think he does, because they did the work of the company, you are nothing but a hypocrite. They agreed to work for the salary they have. Sorry but in this case the owner has absolute power... it was never the employee's money to begin with.

So what I am saying he could make a decision as owner of the company that 50% of the profits will go back to the community that allowed his business to thrive. Not to mention there is probably a tax benefit involved as well. I look at this as a case of a wealthy person trying to figure out what to do with his money. And my solution is give half away... the other half to the people that helped his business acheive its success by doing their jobs.

$1500 (1)

RedWolves2 (84305) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345011)

Give them what you can...$1500 is not to much or not to little they will thank you and give you a good performance next year.

The perfect gift! (2, Informative)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345035)

Here's a real winner! Give each employee one of those round cookie tins with the different kinds of butter cookies. I really like the flat ones with crunchy sugar crystals on top. Since you give it to them at work, they can keep it there all for themselves and not have the kids inhale them within five minutes. The decorative tins also add a truly festive air to the office, well into July.

If that's not an option, then hand out bulk Christmas cards containing a $25 certificate for a small local restaurant. If they haven't ever heard of "Ma's Pasta Shop" so much the better, they'll welcome the push to get out and experience new things! They may even go back, having discovered a new favorite restaurant; the gift that keeps on giving!

Seriously though; employees really do appreciate a generous gift, and will remember it for the rest of the year. I'd suggest giving part of the gift in cash, maybe $750 to $1000. Also have some seasonal gourmet foods sent to their home address; Honeybaked Ham [honeybaked.com] gift packs are always fantastically delicious, and Pittman & Davis [pittmandavis.com] oranges and red grapefruit are the largest and sweetest you'll ever see. Remember, it's not all about the employee's reward and morale boost. This is an opportunity to show his family that you care about both him and his family, and the workplace isn't just where Daddy stays late and comes home tired and grumpy.

Also remember to give the cash bonus well in advance of the actual holiday. Not only do you catch the potential celebrators of other religious holidays, but you give them a welcome shot of cash for the gift-shopping season, which is often very stressful for tight budgets.

Whores! Whores, I tell you! (5, Funny)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345082)

Whores!

Lots and lots of whores!

You run a tech company, right?

Just imagine the loyalty they'll feel toward you, once they can honestly tell their Dungeons & Dragons buddies that they finally lost their virginity in real life.

Re:Whores! Whores, I tell you! (1)

Knetzar (698216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345514)

Yeah, but get good ones, otherwise you'll lose a lot of man hours when your employees are dealing with their STDs.

What I'd do... (2, Insightful)

Judg3 (88435) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345096)

Just because you can afford 1500$/employee doesn't mean you have to give it to them.

If it was up to me, I'd give them 750$~ or so and a 3 or 4day weekend for each of them when time allows.

I only suggest this because the company I used to work, everyone got a $5000 bonus every year (or more). Then one year it ended up being 3000$, even though the company did better then ever, and we were all bummed out. I know I know, flame me for bitching about a 3k bonus instead of 5, but when you come to expect it for bills and such and it doesn't happen, it's a blow to moral. So just start em out small, make sure you can afford it. Remember, even though a bonus is basically a "thanks!" your employees will get used to it, and when you hit a bad year (if) and can't give out bonuses, it'll be a slam to their moral. So start out small, make sure you can cover things, then slowly increase it.

Re:What I'd do... (1)

GoRK (10018) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345537)

Man you are doing the wrong kind of financial planning if your bills and expenses run so close to the line that you budget for an estimated bonus and spend it before you get it..

Give a gift. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7345115)

The cash just get's poured into giant drain of life, buy a cool gift that will clutter up their house. I would much rather have something I wouldn't buy for myself, some sort of laptop for instance. Crappy cheque's just get taxed.
Tax me I'm Canadian

Give em $1 bills (5, Interesting)

crisco (4669) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345280)

Whatever the bonus, go to the bank and get a bunch of $1 bills. If the volume is big enough, go down to Office Max and get a bunch of attache cases and fill it with the dollar bills. If you really want to screw with people layer $20s on the top... Or have some fun and find $2 bills...

Cash is King (3, Insightful)

WayneConrad (312222) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345296)

I hope you are able to ignore all of the silly suggestions to donote to charities, upgrade workstations, and give non-cash gifts.

Donating to a charity in someone's behalf is one of those anti-gifts. It's a gift that isn't a gift. It says, "Here's some cash but you can't have it." And if you chose the charity, you're saying "And I won't even let you pick where it goes." Lovely sentiment.

Upgrading a workstation is, as someone else pointed out, like buying your wife a vacuum cleaner. Keeping workstations fast and efficient is in *your* best interest, and I'll bet you get to write-off the depreciation. It's another anti-gift.

I believe those who say they really appreciate non-cash gifts, but not everyone does. Do you really want to roll the dice? I've sure received a lot of stuff that just missed the mark. Let your employees get something they want, not something the boss wants. Besides, I have a suspicion that a gift large enough to be a decent bonus is probably taxable anyhow. A gift that costs cash to receive would be a huge anti-gift.

Cash is king. It says, "Thanks for all the hard work, and sorry about the chunk the tax man takes (can't help that), and I know you'll make good use of this."

Re:Cash is King (1)

Knetzar (698216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345534)

Would you give your girlfriend cash for her birthday?

Cash is good if you can't think of anything better, but a personalized gift is the best. For only 5 employees you should be able to find a gift that they will want to keep with them for years.
Also most techies like new toys, so brand new computers or extra monitors would not only make them more productive, but also make them really happy. Just don't mention that you spent potential bonus money on the new equipment. Buying your wife a new vacuum cleaner for her birthday is a bad idea, but if she vacuums a lot buying one (notice, not "buy her one", just "buying one") on some random day might make her feel appreciated.

iPod (2, Interesting)

tweder (22759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345306)

My suggestion would be to give them each a 40G iPod and take them out to a nice lunch to show your appreciation.

Seriously, once the cash is gone - it's forgotten. The iPod will be there all year round.

Blatant Plug (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345326)

I work in retail to pay for college.... Godiva gives a decent discount (10% right now) on orders over $600. They sell high-end chocolate, if you're curious. Yes, I work at a retail location for Godiva. No, I don't get comission.

in Holland (1)

cassidyc (167044) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345372)

According to my dutch friend, they give you at least 1 months wages.

Yhey might do more, but that seems pretty standard there.

CJC

Re:in Holland (2, Informative)

Pete (big-pete) (253496) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345586)


According to my dutch friend, they give you at least 1 months wages.

Hmm - it might be the same as things are in Belgium though. Here we get paid a 13 month year, and the 13th month is at the end of November. It's not a bonus, it's part of our salary...

(Actually it's about 13.9 months a year, because we get a similar "holiday pay" in the summer - effectively we get paid double for holiday time, with half of the double pay being paid as if you're working during your holiday, and half in a lump sum in May or June...)

Bonuses are seperate to that...and at least for me are not paid around Christmas as we already have the boost from the 13th month. Do a web search for more info.

-- Pete.

What Do They Want? (1)

OniOid (579440) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345412)

I think some here sort of alluded to this, but ask them as a group, or even individually in private, what they would like (while being up front with what/when etc., you can offer of course), and even how or when they'd prefer it- like a customized thing- ie. in the summer, Chinese/Jewish New year, Halloween, July 4rth., for their birthday, as cash, a gift, a stock option, dental plan, a trip, a longer/earlier vacation, more paid sick days, etc..
I think that the very act of asking them these kinds of things might, in themselves, feel like a bonus, too, and keep you in a good light...
Probably one of the better investments you can make.

Re:What Do They Want? (2, Funny)

itsari (703841) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345631)

Or you could just put a big pile of money in the middle of office and say help yourselves. Be a little more creative and your employees will aprechiate it.

Time off (1)

grotgrot (451123) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345422)

Give them as much time off as you can. Being able to spend time with families, friends or just chilling. You could even hire temps to cover for some of the time.

I'm not the accountant, but... (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345464)

Our bonuses were based on growth and individual's salaries. By basing it on growth rather than profit, you're less likely to overcommit just before a downturn, I guess.

declining bonus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7345536)

I worked at a small financial agents office for a few years doing IT. The first year I was there for christmas the boss took us and our signifigant others (about 10 employees plus others) to a fancy resturant (about $50 a plate) and then to a theater for a play. The next year we had a christmas lunch at a local resturant (some chinese place i think) the next year we had subway sandwiches brought in by the bosses wife the day b4 christmas. Oh well what are you gonna do. But before all that i worked at kiosk in a shopping mall doing photo retouching and got a $300 check for christmas (about a 2 weeks paycheck for my part time work)

This last summer i was an intern at qualcomm and got a non cash reward for good work and was able to choose from a list of rewards including things such as hour massage, camping equipment, jewlery, dinner, sporting event tickets, etc I ended up chossing a dinner dance cruise around san diego (about $100 value), which my wife and i enjoyed very much however i ended up spending about another 50 on drinks and tip but it was worth it. I am not interning there now that i am back in school so i dont know what type of christmas bonus goes on there.

Bo-onus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7345561)

What is this strange concept? Is it anything like the mythical "raise" I keep hearing about?

Seriously - this year I'm hoping my bonus is a job with a different company. *sigh*

(posted anonymously for fear of reprisals)

Paid days off (1)

Kopretinka (97408) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345620)

I work in Europe, so I'm used to getting plenty of paid vacation time (4 weeks, the legal minimum in my country), but last christmas we got a few additional paid days off and it was very nice. If only to save your normal vacation time for later.

If you can afford $1500 each, it looks like a week off with full pay is a nice way to say thanks.

Geomag (1)

Scorchio (177053) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345701)

...and lots of it. [firebox.com]

Money... (1)

nsebban (513339) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345710)

Money is much more appreciated than presents, even if they're expensive presents.

What you can do is give them money (say $1200), and offer them champagne, or even geek stuff @ thinkgeek [thinkgeek.com] . $300 makes nice presents, and $1200 money is always appreciated !

If you have got enough (1)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345825)

why not say $1200 bonus and then prehaps a small thoughtful present for each person. That way you get the best of all world?

Or prehaps a company outing

Rus

Here's my math . . . (1)

millisa (151093) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345856)

You said 5 employees and enough for 1500 each? 5x1500 = 7500.

I'd go with an even grand each. That would leave 1500 that could be used for a group gift like a foozball table, or local game server or just some things to nicen up the office (let the group pick or vote on stuff).

And yes, my math is right. 5x1000=5000 which would leave 2500, but I don't see how it's fair that *YOU* don't get to have the same bonus since you probably worked just as hard if not harder to keep them all so happy. Besides, you've never gotten a bonus and someone who puts thought into something like this no doubt deserves it. And if you were including yourself in the 5, then make it 2500 for the 'make the office a better place' gift.

Cash is good (1)

mpechner (637217) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346027)

Make sure they understand that this is special. You don't want them to think is is now a regular benefit. In terms of amount, if the $1500 is more than a weeks pay, make it a weeks pay for each person. As a grand gesture give each person a thank you with a $100 in cash and say the rest will show in the paycheck. Then again your accountant can advise you on the largest "gift" you can give each person without having to apply income taxes. A $200-$500 non-taxed gift certificate for amazon will also go over very well. As an employee my self I say give'm the $1500. As a businessman I say give them something they'll appreciate and bank the rest. With this economy, don't spend what you don't have to.

Gifts are good -- check with your employees! (1)

morzel (62033) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346038)

I don't know how Mr. Taxman handles this in your neck of the woods; but when handing out gifts (part of) the cost may be tax deductible (which is good for your company).

How big is your company? I've done something similar in a company with 6 employees; small enough for me to know what kind of presents the people liked. Ended up giving different gifts of the same value depending on what they liked:

Gift voucher for a travel shop

Gift voucher for computer hardware

Gift voucher for a new bicycle

If you don't know what your employees would like, perhaps you should just ask them what they prefer: a bonus (which will be taxed), gift vouchers for the same monetary amount, a new PC...

Make sure you tell them that this is because as a team, you made a good bottom line; and you wanted to thank them for their efforts. When just giving bonuses, people tend to expect them again the year after and are regarding it as 'appreciation for their efforts', regardless of how the company is doing.
This is a gift from the company, because you can afford it: you wouldn't have given it to the same people who performed exactly in the same way if the company didn't turn a profit.

Gift Certs (1)

mink (266117) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346053)

Most I have ever been given was a $100 Gift Certificate.
I'd kill for a $1500 cash bonus.

My suggestion (1)

Sandman1971 (516283) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346055)

If you have 1500$ per employee, give them something like a 1000$ bonus, make a donation to a charity in the order of 100$ each (in their name) and use the rest and have a small office party at your local pub/restaurant. Whatever's left over use to slightly improve work surroundings (IE: coke machine with free pop til the funds run dry, etc...)

Defray Health Insurance costs (1)

ghostis (165022) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346102)

Given the skyrocketing costs of health insurance, your employees may get better benefit from you giving much smaller bonuses (200 - 300) and putting the rest of the extra money towards better health insurance, or, at least, paying 100% of their health insurance costs for a few months.

-Ghostis

Our place (1)

Grab (126025) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346116)

Round here we get a bonus of 1 week salary at Xmas. That's fine by me.

If your engineers have been pulling long hours, you may want to boost that to reflect that they're working above and beyond. Better to make the latter kind of bonus contingent on release dates though, so it's obvious that it's targetted at completing work to time and quality, rather than just an Xmas thing.

Don't suck too much cash out of the company though. Employees would rather have less bonus and keep their jobs, than get high bonuses but get fired at the next downturn!

Grab.

holiday bonus (1)

smoon (16873) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346166)

Make sure that all of your employees celebrate Christmas. If you've got people who don't -- e.g. Jewish, Islamic, Buhdist, etc. they may take offense at a "Christmas" bonus -- call it a "Holiday" bonus instead.

If most of your employees have major obligations (e.g.: are married with small kids, are divorced with alimony payments, etc.) then just giving them money is likely to end up paying for diapers, toys, etc. -- nothing for them specifically. Consider a gift that they would appreciate and the balance as the bonus. That way they get something they want (like an iPod or a digital camera, or some power tools), but that they couldn't buy if they were given the money. You may be able to spin this as a business expense so that the employees don't end up paying taxes on the gift. Good question for a tax accountant.

Also consider a 'bonus for the office' -- if you gave everyone $1000 instead of $1500 that would leave a few thousand for something like an expresso machine or free soda machine, or a la-z-boy massaging recliner in the break room -- some kind of luxury they get to enjoy all year.

Bonus and extras (1)

Lockle (61177) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346190)

I would give them a cash bonus, perhaps of $500, and also promise to keep the office fridge stocked with soda the next year. That way the bonus keeps on giving :-)

This year for xmas... (1)

phagstrom (451510) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346207)

I get to keep my job, but only if I'm really, really, really lucky.

giving, receiving and management decision making (0)

Bioinfo (655064) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346254)

Since it's a Well Known Fact (tm) that it's better to give than to receive, surely you would be helping to make your employees happier, more rounded individuals if you encouraged them to give you something, rather than all this hippy, 'let's share the wealth, man' stuff.

Seriously though, I hope for the future prospects of your company (and consequently the continued employment of your staff) that you manage to become more decisive about this financial stuff. We don't all have the time to help you out everytime you need to make a decision.

FWIW, if it were me in charge, I would never use the words 'Christmas Bonus' or anything involving the word 'Bonus'. I would pitch it as a 'profitability party' and take them all white water rafting, or bowling or something similar with taxis to get them home afterwards. That way everyone has a blast, they know that it's because you got profitable and there won't be another one unless you *stay* profitable. It's also equitable because everyone got to go to the same place at the same time - no percentage crap.

Only place.. (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346399)

..I ever got a Christmas Bonus from was BMC Software [bmc.com] . The way they did it was everyone upto a certain salary level got a $500 bonus. Anyone making over $60K (I believe, might've been higher) didn't get the bonus.

And they held killer Christmas parties. Everyone dressed to the 9s, free food, two free drinks (and then its a cash bar). A separate party for the kids with a visit from Santa and presents. Hell, the 1st year I worked there (actually, it was my 3rd day) they had the Christmas party in Houston. They paid for everyone in Austin to come over (reimbursed $.33/mile. I made money by driving to Houston for that party) and put everyone up in the hotel the party was at for free.

I can't imagine many companies can afford to do this now.

used to have pretty good Christmas bonuses (1)

MacBrave (247640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346427)

I work for a midwestern car manufacturer that has about 2400 employees where I'm a salaried developer in their IT department.

Back in 1999 and 2000 I got around a $4k bonus before taxes. The bonuses for salaried and management was determined by some kind of formula HR devised. I think all the hourly workers got something like $1k-$1.5k.

However, in the past couple of years my bonus has dropped to around 1K and this year we might not get one at all if you believe the rumors......

Bonus (1)

raminator (635306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346435)

I used to work at a place that would give 10% of your annual salary as a bonus.

Anything, as long as it's communicated (2, Insightful)

Drunken_Jackass (325938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346463)

Here's the thing. If you don't tell people they are getting a bonus, and then you give them one, that's great. However, next year you may not be so financially black (hopefully you are though) so communication is very important. Giving surprise bonuses without prior "warning" can lead to frustration next year when no prior warning is given, and then no bonus is given.

What's worse, is when bonuses are written into contracts and initial hire communications, but then completely dropped around the holiday times (like at my company). Nothing spells plummeting moral like breaking promises, especially when they're promises about money.

I guess what i'm saying, is be careful that you don't end up in a situation where expectation is set through non-communicative means. "Well, we got on last year, and i think we're doing well this year..." is trouble.

Be clear, concise, and honest about bonus policies.

Bonus Expectations (1)

Pooquey (549981) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346550)

I've worked in all sorts of environments. Suffice it to say, despite the CURRENT economy, most of these places were turning a quite decent profit whilst I was there. The following is a list of the bonuses typical of these places (which were both professional - eg Attorney's Office, laborious - eg Manufacturing Plant, and retail):
1. $400-$700 (from the isp that I currently work for)
2. $2500 raise (from the law firm - biggest bonus yet - and I call it a bonus because I got it at Christmas in lieu of a cash bonus for perfomance, and raises were done at the end of fiscal in april.)
3. One 8-12lb turkey (that was from the zoo)
4. $50 Gift Cert to the local grocer (TV Station)

That being said, my expectation is quite a lot lower than what I've seen of the responses so far. However, I think the key here IS expectations. If you set them, be sure to set them early and reasonably. And NEVER fail to meet them. Beyond that, whatever you do decide to give should be sufficient (particularly as this is the first time you've done it.)

Rational people do not rely upon bonuses as a functional part of their budget, and if you give those who do enough early warning that they aren't to expect one, everyone will be apprciative of whatever they get.

Definitely not too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7346576)

The more you give, the more loyal they will be to the company. I once worked at a company that gave out bonus that could be as much as 100% of your annual income. Yes, 100% of annual income! We would have doen anything for that company. The first year I was there, I got a 70K bonus! Unfortunately after the 10K I put in a 401(k), and the federal government, state government, and wife took a chunk, it didn't feel that big any more.

Watch Out for Tax brackets (1)

OctaneZ (73357) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346591)

One thing to watch out for is that, this bonus, especially a large one like that, might bump people into the next tax bracket. This has hapened at a couple of places i ahve worked (before I got there), so if you can spare a few minutes, just make sure that this gift, plus salary, won't bumjp people up.

Personally I think the Gift CardAmex Card + Party is a great idea!

Watch the precedent... (1)

clintp (5169) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346607)

Make sure that everyone knows what your intentions are for future bonuses. Presenting this as a holiday bonus might give the impression that you're going to do this every year (are you?). Presenting this as a profitibility bonus might mean that every time there's a profit, people will expect a bonus (will you?).

Give everyone a good frame of reference so they know what to expect. The last thing you want to do is wind up having people *rely* on the bonus and get disappointed with the Jelly of the Month [imdb.com] (the gift that keeps on giving, all year!).

hrm (1)

xNullx (635439) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346644)

I wonder if any of the people replying and saying "$1500 is great!" are employees of this guy.

$500 (1)

Ratbert42 (452340) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346651)

Avoid gifts. Let people pick their own. Don't waste the money on a lavish party. Some people will love it but many will hate it. I think $500 is a nice round figure. It's enough to get that new digital camera / flat-screen or fund a weekend getaway (or at least make a huge dent in the cost). I'd also just go with the same bonus for everyone and let people know it's the same. It'll avoid all that petty rumor crap. And if you really want to go back and give more to a star employee, do it privately.

Christmas Bonuses (2, Informative)

kb1cvh (88565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346678)

While once employed by a large financial company,
I've received and also allocated bonuses that were:
1) a percentage of my salary
2) a percentage of a pool allocated to my department
3) an extra paycheck
for percentages, a 5-10% of the monthly salary is was not unusual.

Money is much more useful then other gifts.

Thank you for being kind to your employees.

Call it a year end bonus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7346742)

Some people don't do X-mas, so don't throw X-mas in their face. Call it a year end bonus, but kudos for actually giving one! Most bossses give nothing, or a pink slip because they outsourced your job to India.
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