Can't Afford Year-End Bonuses? Here Are 4 Things You Can Do for Your Employees Instead

Many small businesses have had a tough couple of years. Rampant inflation has forced many businesses to spend more to operate. And if you’ve needed to borrow money this year, whether in the form of a loan or credit card balance, your interest rate was likely less than favorable because that’s just the borrowing environment we’re in. 

If you run a business, it’s easy to see why you may not be in a position to pay year-end bonuses to your employees. Zippia reports that only 33% of U.S. companies offer year-end bonuses, so if you skip out on them, you won’t be in the minority. But if you care about your employees, you may want to have a means of rewarding them for a job well done.

Unfortunately, you can’t make bonus money materialize if your company just doesn’t have it. But you can do these things to make up for a lack of bonuses instead.

Many people find themselves unable to travel to see family during the holidays due to not having enough time off from work. If you can’t give out year-end bonuses this season, consider the gift of added time off instead. Even if you have employees who intend to stay local, they’re apt to appreciate the extra time to cook, decorate, and just plain relax.

2. Be flexible with workers’ hours during the holidays

It can be hard to shop for holiday gifts and make plans when you’re working nonstop. If you can’t give out year-end bonuses in December, consider being more flexible with scheduling at the very least. Give your employees a couple of bonus afternoons off to hit the mall so they’re not limited to evening hours only. And be willing to let people with children work from home if they lack child care during their kids’ winter break.

3. Host a fun holiday party 

You may not be able to swing a hefty bonus for dozens of employees. But you can probably afford to spend a few hundred dollars to cater a nice holiday party. At the very least, give your employees an afternoon or evening of food and fun to thank them for all their hard work.

4. Be generous with praise

If your employees were to be honest, they’d probably tell you that they’d prefer a $1,000 check at the end of the year rather than some kind words and compliments. But if you can’t afford the former, the good news is that the latter is totally free. And it can still go a long way. So take the time to write each employee a personal note thanking them for their contributions and highlighting their accomplishments. 

When employees don’t get perks like bonuses, morale can take a hit. That can be a dangerous thing that prompts employees to jump ship. 

Rather than run that risk, do your best to make up for a lack of holiday bonuses. Also, be honest about your company’s financial situation. Explain that a lack of bonuses isn’t you being cheap — it’s a matter of money, or lack thereof. If your employees see that you’re making an effort to make up for a lack of bonuses, they may not take the news as hard.

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