December 9, 2020

Rewarding employees without paying a bonus

Can’t afford to pay a Christmas bonus this year? There are other ways you can be rewarding your employees. As we can all imagine, there are many businesses out there that have found 2020 a challenging year both emotionally and financially. And, as a result, the traditional Christmas bonus might be off the cards. That’s not to say a reward system shouldn’t be in place. It’s just about being a little creative. Here are seven HR-approved ways in which you can be rewarding your employees without having to pay them money.

HR Tip 1: Give them complimentary leave

Time is precious. Giving employees extra leave can be an effective way to boost morale and show appreciation for their efforts. Consider adding a day or two to people’s leave quota. Otherwise, what about declaring a company-wide holiday? Let people have an extra day off either between Christmas and New Year or in early January. How’s that for rewarding?

HR Tip 2: Host a company lunch or picnic

Why not give everyone a half-day off in the lead up to the holiday period or soon after you get back from leave? And, why not consider hosting a company or team picnic? Along with encouraging people to mix and get to know each other, it’ll let employees share in the business’s success without having to resort to paying bonuses.

HR Tip 3: Pay it forward, with a future bonus scheme

If you can’t pay a Christmas bonus this year, how about doubling next year’s one? If that sounds like madness, why not consider setting it up in a way that’s based on both business performance and employee’ performance too? After all, by aligning bonuses to performance, the business can get a lift while making those employees happy and productive too.

HR Tip 4: Let them drop a task

Ask everyone in your team to reveal one task they really dislike doing. Then find a way to do it without them, by re-assigning it, outsourcing it or even find a way to get rid of it. Of course, you need to ensure that what people choose isn’t core to their job description and role.

HR Tip 5: Write a personalised Christmas card

You’d be surprised how appreciative a handwritten card can be. Particularly when it’s written by management. A handwritten note expressing gratitude for the year’s work and personal contributions can actually have a real impact when it comes to making employees feel appreciated. In difficult times, it’s the simple gestures that count.

HR Tip 6: Make it work from other areas

If you’re absolutely adamant about providing your team with a Christmas bonus, work out if there’s a way you can take the money you need from somewhere else. Just be sure not to drain the training budget or other key areas that might help employees develop their skills and set your business up for long-term success.

HR Tip 7: Ask the simple question, what do you want?

If you really don’t know what to do in lieu of a bonus, ask your employees instead. Of course, you need to put some limitations on it but by letting them have a say, you’ll empower them while also keeping them happy. Plus, you’ll get to know your team members a little more and what they actually appreciate.

Reward and recognition doesn’t always have to have a dollar figure

As someone that’s been working in human resources for years, I understand the importance (and power) of keeping employees engaged. Typically, a Christmas bonus is considered the go-to when it comes to rewarding employees. Yes, it’s a great morale booster in the lead up to the holiday season, but it’s not the only way to do it. If you can’t afford a bonus this year, remember there are still creative ways to show people you care without handing out cash.

say hi to our author

Merilyn founded Catalina Consultants in 2012 on the belief that all organisations, regardless of size, should have access to top quality bespoke HR services. She enjoys working closely with her clients and believes that the best results are built on relationships of rapport, trust and authenticity. Growing up, Merilyn had her sight set on stardom and dreamed of becoming an actor. She also sang and played the piano, but ended up studying accounting and HR. Whilst she hasn’t won her Grammy just yet, she still loves a good karaoke night. Merilyn loves to travel with her family, with South Africa being one of her most memorable destinations.

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