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Christmas Cheer

Christmas Bonuses? 320

Posted by Cliff
from the what-should-santa-give-you-this-year dept.
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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Christmas Bonuses?

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  • Partials (Score:5, Insightful)

    by man_ls (248470) on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @11:43PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by saden1 (581102) on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @11:55PM (#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.
      • by Glonoinha (587375) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @10:56AM (#7347848) Journal
        Invest the $7,500 back into the company but let them decide how to invest it.

        Just a thought : every employee secretly wishes he had some power to do something a little bit different, has something that drives him at work. Give them power, and money is power.

        Five $1,500 Amex gift cards to be used 'for business expenses' (that part means you get to write it off on your taxes if you get some supporting paperwork, and they don't have to pay $600 of it to the IRS) empower them mightily (money = power). A case of the good coffee, ten cases of soda that they like for the fridge, a nice twin 18" LCD monitor setup or Bose noise cancelling headset, a DVD burner for their individual workstation, more RAM for the server or their machine, one of those nifty HyperThreading new P4 machines, a session of training, 7 MCSE exams, a new 100 megabit switch to replace the hub, wifi gear, iPod, handheld iPaq, work related hardware for their home office, reference materials ... in short they have the power to override any purchase veto they didn't particularly agree with. Better now they can go get that toy they have been wanting SOOO badly without convincing anybody that they need it - I really want a SMP box but there is no way I could convince my boss that I need one.

        This borders on the 'new vacuum cleaner for the wife' but remember that if they are hardcore techies they LIKE new toys even if they are work related toys. After regular ol' cash is spent (once it hits the bank and mixes with all the other cash it isn't the same anymore) it is forgotten ... but a twin 18" LCD display says 'I am special' for a very long time and serves as a daily reminder that what is good for the company is good for the employee.

        Because it is something they are spending to improve their quality of life issues at work (and the IRS doesn't steal 40% of it, and their wife doesn't get to steal the rest) they are justified (guilt free!) to spend it on toys that they really, really want.

        Finally because it doesn't actually affect their bottom line at home they can't become dependant on the bonus money in their annual budget and if this 'benefit' is only half the size next year (or zero if biz is bad) they are not going to be nearly bent out of shape.
        • Mod Parent Up! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stungod (137601)
          Wow. That's really a god idea. Now, before I get flamed for this, let me explain.

          I'm sure I'm not the only one (at least I hope I'm not) who has taken a bonus/windfall and bought a tech toy that's marginally useful for work but might not have a really solid business need. I once took a bonus and bought a really kick-ass PDA, which I thine used for some work purposed as well as all the fun stuff I wanted it for.

          There's a ton of things that would fall into this category. Maybe a trip to (insert trade sh
        • I like that idea of not getting employees dependent on a fixed bonus. I also really like the idea of having them decide how to spend the money... it will make them feel more in control and listened to. You could allow them to make the decision themselves, invest up to $1500 on work tools/training, and they can take 75% of what's left over in cash.
        • by BengalsUF (145009) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:42PM (#7349198)
          So what good is that to those of us who have a life outside the office? For most of us, work is a means to an end. What you're suggesting isn't what I would consider a bonus. Sure, it would make some aspect of my job better...but for most of us happiness in our life away from work is far more important than happiness at work.
          • what a sad comment (Score:5, Insightful)

            by GCP (122438) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @05:44PM (#7352758)
            For most of us, work is a means to an end. What you're suggesting isn't what I would consider a bonus.

            I don't know whether your claim of "most of us" above is accurate or not, but it sure doesn't apply to me.

            The hours of my life matter a lot to me. I spend too many hours at work to NOT treat it as part of my "real life". I look for work that I want to do as an integral part of living my life, not as a "means to an end".

            If I can't find such work, that's a hardship that I work to try to overcome if I can. Sometimes I can't for a while, but I don't shrug it off as "work is just a means to an end".

            Most of the time, I care how it goes, and I value being given authority and resources that give me more leverage over this important portion of my life.

            An employer who provided a bonus of this sort to me would be giving me some resources for improving things in an area of my life that I care about, and this would matter to me.

        • I've worked at a graphic design print shop for about a year and a half now. Last year we had a great year because some of our competitors left town and we were able to produce some really nice, public work on a few projects. So our boss gave us two days off before Christmas but wante dus to have an office party with our wives, girlfriends, friends, and ex-coworkers (that we're on good terms with). So me and the guys got a few days off and came back for the Christmas party on a Friday night. When we came in
    • Is this story for real? An actual boss who may give a bonus? Is he hiring?
  • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @11:44PM (#7344578) Homepage Journal
    Will you hire me? ;-)
  • Split it up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arrow (9545) <mike@damm. c o m> on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @11:53PM (#7344627) Homepage Journal
    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! (Score:3, Informative)

    by penguin_punk (66721) on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @11:53PM (#7344629) Journal
    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! (Score:2, Insightful)

      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
  • 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.

  • Regional Economy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by _iris (92554) on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @11:56PM (#7344651) Homepage
    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.
  • by stienman (51024) <[adavis] [at] [ubasics.com]> on Wednesday October 29, 2003 @11:58PM (#7344662) Homepage Journal
    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
    • 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.
    • 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)

      I'm dubious. Suppose she normally does all the vacuuming and you give her one of those robotic vacuum things (well, maybe in a couple of years when they're smarter). I mean, hell, if *I* was vacuuming, I'd *damn* well appreciate having a significant amount of labor removed from my life.

      Disclaimer: IANAMM (I Am Not A Married Man)
    • by jafuser (112236) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @01:55PM (#7350128)
      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)

      What a double-standard. If a wife buys her husband a set of power tools as a gift, you know you won't hear him complaining. =P
      • I wouldn't call that a double standard. Power tools are generally a hobby for those husbands who recieve them as gifts, whereas vacuuming is a chore.

        If it was considered OK to get the husband an iron so that he could iron his own pants/shirts, then yes, it would be a double standard.

        Of course if there was someone who made a hobby out of vacuuming, a nice sporty vacuum cleaner would be an appropriate gift.
    • 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)

      *Unless* your wife not only *specifies* a vacuum cleaner as a gift, but a specific model and type.

      I'd also include not giving your wife a gift that you really want, but I still remember the funny look she gave me when she opened her Season 1 "South Park" DVD set....
  • Careful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by etymxris (121288) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:03AM (#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.
  • 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]

    :)
    • 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 ma
    • i'd also attach a form for the Human Fund.
  • by Baron_Yam (643147) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:06AM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:06AM (#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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_other_one (178565) * on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:08AM (#7344717) Homepage
    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.
  • by msuzio (3104) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:11AM (#7344730) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Drakin (415182) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:23AM (#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.

  • by jag164 (309858)
    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

  • 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...).
    • Actually it EXCEEDS the $1500 limit for a simple reason (well actually 1040 reasons.) $1000 in cash and a bottle of the Dom far exceeds the net on a $1500 check.

      Pretty nifty.
  • good for both (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jjshoe (410772) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:39AM (#7344902) Homepage
    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.
  • by OneFix (18661) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:42AM (#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.
    • I've worked for 3 major Detroit sports teams. Two of them, owned by the same tight wad (if you live in Detroit, you know who I'm talking about), offer minimal bonuses to full time employees and nothing to the part timers or the production people, who bring in most of the sponsor money for a team. Needless to say, we hate working for them.

      Now that a third sports team has moved to Detroit, I have the pleasure of working for them too. They do a great many things for company morale, like having a "social co
  • yes it is! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by josepha48 (13953) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @12:47AM (#7344938) Journal
    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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

      IIRC, any "gift" over $25 in value, whether cash or goods, is considered by the IRS to be taxable compensation. At least my employer (IBM) reports (and withholds for) any such gifts or prizes, and IBM is very careful about following IRS regulations exactly.

      A few years ago a bunch of us got nice stone-washed denim shirts with the IBM Global Services logo on them at a company outing. Everyone li

  • 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 consi

  • 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! (Score:3, Informative)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @01:05AM (#7345035) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by orthogonal (588627) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @01:13AM (#7345082) Journal
    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.
  • What I'd do... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Judg3 (88435) <jeremy@@@pavleck...com> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @01:17AM (#7345096) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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..
    • Straight up. Biggest blow to my morale was also the largest bonus check I have ever received - over $8k. I ended up quitting less than a year later even though it was easily twice as large as any I had before or after.

      Why? Everything is relative. I was the IT staffer charged with printing out the list of who was getting what and saw that there were no talent, no college degree, not working on the Y2K-keep-the-company alive, ass-clowns whose bonuses were twice the size of mine (three women in particular
  • Give em $1 bills (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crisco (4669) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @02:02AM (#7345280) Homepage
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WayneConrad (312222) * <(wconrad) (at) (yagni.com)> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @02:08AM (#7345296) Homepage
    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."
  • iPod (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tweder (22759) <stwede@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @02:14AM (#7345306) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (Score:3, Informative)

      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

      • Here in Germany its the same. There is, however, a snag. If you resign or leave the company before the end of March you have to give the Christmas salary back!!!

        And with 13 smaller checks instead of 12 it so works out that the Taxman gets more of your cash. So this 13th check thing is crap because it reduces your yearly income with about 300 Euros as well as giving the idiots in charge an opportunity for blackmail.

        The irritating thing is that they forced me to change my contract, it was not always like th
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

  • 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...)
  • 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 bon
  • 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
  • ..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
  • by Drunken_Jackass (325938) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @08:25AM (#7346463) Homepage
    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.
  • 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!
    • > bump people into the next tax bracket

      This is a common urban myth.
      Higher tax brackets only affect the portion of your income that is above the threshhold. You cannot end up 'losing money' by getting more money. Rule of thumb: More money is always a good thing.
  • 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] (

  • 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 (Score:2, Informative)

    by kb1cvh (88565) *
    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.
  • Remember Clarke Grizwold? Jelly of the month club? Yeah... When you start giving your employess christmas boneruses, they may come to expect it every year. And reasonably so. Therefor you ought to be careful not to give them more than you think you'll be able to afford to give them next year. At least not unless you give them a serious disclaimer.
  • by kaszeta (322161) <rich@kaszeta.org> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @09:11AM (#7346789) Homepage
    Bonuses in general are a very good idea, since they really help everyone feel like they are a valued member of the team, and that their hard work is being rewarded. But there are some caveats:
    1. Give money, not gifts. Gifts may or may not be appropriate, while money is universal
    2. If you give a bonus once, your workers will often expect the bonus every year. Make sure that they know what is expected of them for a bonus, and also make sure that they understand that bonuses depend on economic conditions, and that they might not always be there.
    3. If you make giving out bonuses a habit, make sure that if you find out that there might not be a bonus in a given year, let your people know then. Telling people that they might not get a bonus isn't the greatest morale booster, but it is *way* better than having someone think a check is coming that isn't. Bigger checks are a pleasant surprise. Smaller checks are a slap in the face.
    4. It's best if you come up with your own hard rules about determining bonuses (amount and who gets them) and stick with them, so it doesn't appear arbitrary.

    I've worked for a number of years at a small company where we do annual profit-sharing bonuses, and it works well as a motivational tool, and everyone likes the extra money at the end of the fiscal year. But we also are reminded that they *are* bonuses, and if business gets tight, the bonus can and has been $0 in the past (thankfully, this is rarely the case)

  • Maybe I have just been lucky, but every company I worked for was big on bonuses. Like up to 40-80% of salary type bonuses. Most very successful firms that I have heard about work in this manner. Interestingly enough, these companies were also very successful and had workers that frequently worked 60+ hours a week somewhat willingly. *If* you are willing to be this forthcoming, I would establish bonuses distributed as a percentage of profit(which you would have to reveal to your employees). The system work
  • If you do well this year, and next year is just OK, you might be forced to lower the bonus. Don't do it. Whatever you decide on this year, make sure that you have the option to do the same thing the next year. If that means a smaller cash bonus, so be it.

    As an alternative, consider giving out a few extra days off or some other non-trivial perk. That will usually be appreciated.

    The reason for this is that if you give, say, $2,000 this year and next year you give $1,000 because business took a dip peo

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

    'You won't survive on brains alone' by Scott Adams. Ironic, and redundant because I already had it.



  • I think bonuses are nice.
    But if you are _just_ becomming profitable, I think it would be better to make sure you'll stick around till next year.

    Just me, but keeping my job is a better bonus then a few hundred bucks.

    Also people start to expect them (National Lampoons Christmas Vacation) and that can cause no end of trouble.
    In any case keep it small, and give them a larger raise when that time comes around. $20/week more then they were expecting.
  • A bonus is nice, and certainly would be welcomed, but if you offer a 401(k)[1], put a huge hunk of the money into that.

    [1] If you don't, why not? Mutual companies do offer very simple 401(k) plans with low administration fees, and you could just offer a few index funds.
  • Good bonuses I have received: 1) $1000 2) $5000 3) $10000 4) $25 grocery store gift certificate 5) Nothing (see below, as nothing is certainly better then the bad bonuses) Bad bonuses: 1) a box of the ugliest flowers (I use the term loosely) I have seen. They were from Hawii and had to be at least $100, I did a little research. 2) A (wait for it) small dietetic fruit/snack basket. And bad, sugarless, flavorless snacks at that. There are others, but the bad ones really stand out. The were both from a
  • way way back when I worked for DEC (in the late 80's) we got 'xmas turkeys'. DEC would buy whole truckloads of frozen 5lb (maybe it was 10, I forget) turkeys, and have you collect them in the parking lot at the end of the day. building by building. each year, it was the same.

    today, having a JOB is a bonus enough, I think. so many of us are out of work, taking a severe paycut or just contracting here and there to make ends meet. you are lucky you HAVE a job and can GIVE a bonus.

    it doesn't have to be b

  • I worked where Christmas bonuses were distributed.

    Then, they were typically about a month's salary, maybe a little less.

    Obviously, YMMV.

    But definitely go with cash distributions.

    Keep it secret until the end for maximum impact.

    More than a few folks get themselves into financial jams around Christmas, your bonus distribution will help keep them cheery.

    Kudoes for being a good boss.

  • by lythander (21981) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @10:52AM (#7347797)
    First, remember that you will be setting a precedent. Too generous now may make you look cheap next year.

    Second, Cash is king. It allows the recipient to best decide what's good for them, and meet their own needs, not eat a ridiculously overpriced meal on an inconvenient night.

    That being said, keep in mind the tax ramifications of large cash gifts. Maybe giving everyone a $1500 raise would be a more efficient way to convey the money.

    Third, what else can you give to improve your workers' lot in life? Do you provide a company match towards insurance coverage? Retirement contributions? If you're a small startup, you probably don't have insurance offerings for them -- add that as a benefit, and pitch in $1500 or so per employee towards the cost. That will make many people very happy.

    Finally, Give them time off. Shut down between Christmas and New Years Day, or maybe just for a couple of days. Startups are notorious for working people to death, sometimes for good reason, and while you seem to care enough about your employees not to do that more than necessary, it would benefit them and you to give them some more time off to rest, recharge, and tend to their homelives. Maybe add a day to their annual allotment as well!

    And Merry Christmas. Please remain in this employee-centric frame of mind as you grow your business and become a captain of industry.
  • Other ideas (Score:3, Informative)

    by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3@gmaiWELTYl.com minus author> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:25AM (#7348173)
    1001 ways to reward employees
    by Bob Nelson, ISBN 1-56305-339-X is a good resource that might help you determine what to give.

    Amazon [amazon.com] link

    Regards, Anomaly
  • Don't. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GoofyBoy (44399) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @11:38AM (#7348330) Journal

    I know that everyone else would disagree with me but seriously consider not giving out bonuses.

    Throw a small party/give a small gift but keep the money and use it to grow the business. Give them the gift of hopefully better job security.
  • It's common practice in the skilled trades to give a worker a few thousand dollars at Christmastime, provided he did a good job all year. It makes the worker happy, it cements his loyalty, and it starts the new year on a positive note. Some organizations give programmers bonuses as well, which seems to have the same happy effect.

    I haven't been lucky enough to work for such an organization, and hearing about the bonuses they award always depresses me. I don't begrudge them their good fortune, and I congradu
  • That will come out to like 175 dollars after taxes.
  • Right now I'd settle for a full time job.
  • Not too much! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hubertt (166532)
    Better do not give everything you can - set a lower level, just like 500$/person. Why? Because when (if) next year your company will have worse results - and people will get less for xmas bonuses - they will be disapointed. So better give 500 and save the rest for the next year xmas party :-)
    By the way, are you hiring? :-)
  • No Bonus (Score:2, Redundant)

    by perljon (530156)
    Ask them if they want a bonus. Maybe instead, you can put $1500 aside for employee benefits or something. Let them choose a $1500 bonus or a $1500 discretionary spending budget. If you give them $1500, they actually only get $750 after taxes. The tax benefits for you are the same either way.

    However, if you setup a descretionary fund, then the employee can spend the full $1500 ( on a laptop, free road runner, free home telephone service, better health insurance, child care, or whatever else can be conside
  • At my company, we get annual "merit-based" bonuses in March. The bonus is based 25% on my evaluation (performance), 25% on my department's overall performance, and 50% on the company's performance as a whole.

    Last year, my bonus was $9200. I suspect it will be higher this coming year (We're having an even better year!)

    And no, we're not a repo company. :)
  • I'm not sure where you are based at, or what the employees make. Remember, save some of the money for a rainy day. Just by the by, for run of the mill employees, follow the rules about gift giving. It definitely shouldn't exceed 2x there monthly salary (I believe that is after taxes). Should probably be somewhere near what they make in a week or two. So that's between 0.25-2 * after taxes monthly salary.

    $500 is nearly my entire rent payment (in my 1 bedroom apartment). However, in NY City, $500 won

  • One of my lawyer clients gives Christmas bonuses in the range of $6,000 - $11,000 (and these are receptionists and paralegals, not just non-partner lawyers). So, no, $1500 is not necessarily too much. I'd say go with your gut. Give them what you think they're worth, not what convention dictates.
  • Moo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chacham (981) * on Friday October 31, 2003 @09:02AM (#7357261) Homepage Journal
    Money is always the best present, because people can use it. Though it doesn't evoke the most appreciation. Appreciation usually comes from presents, because the person is tied to the present.

    If you have 5 employees and can afford $1500, that's $7500. It can be split up three ways, money (for a token gift), a gift (to show appreciation), and a better workplace.

    That said, each person could receive $300. (It's a nice token that'll give them a night on the town, plus help then buy their personal latest toy, or make another car payment). Then you could spend another $200 each on gifts, such as tickets to a concert, better computer monitors, or some gadget. That'll leave about $5000. With that, buy a coke machine (from Coke, $750 startup fee, plus $75/mo) plumbing will cost about $3000. Syrup costs about $40 a box, and CO2 (after the outlay for the canister of about $100) will cost about $20 to refill. That'll leave about $1000. Use that to buy a refrigerator/freezer, and put ice cream and treats in it weekly.

    If you do that, or something like it, you will show appreciation, they will get money and gifts, and their entire working experience (which is exactly what you re showing appreciation for) will be enhanced, greatly. Free food is the cheapest, and probably most successful, way to make employees happy. The Coke machine is something i once had, and there is nothing like filling up a coke from your own personal fountain.

  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Saturday November 01, 2003 @02:22AM (#7365616) Homepage Journal
    Unless you don't think we^H^H they don't read slashdot.

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