Small business owners may feel at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to extending gestures of appreciation to their employees. Budgets are tight and employee productivity genuinely matters to their bottom lines.
Thankfully, employees of small companies tend to understand all of this. Their professional experiences often keep expectations in check, even during the holiday season. This understanding is not, however, a reason or excuse for business owners to embrace the attitude of that most infamous of small business owner, Ebenezer Scrooge.
When a holiday falls on a business day, consider adding another lump of coal to the stove and, when possible, letting your employees leave early.
Paid Time Off – The Gift That Keeps Giving
Small or nascent businesses are often left scrambling for inexpensive ways to build employee morale and engagement. Therefore, it is important for these businesses to understand what employees value.
Generally, employees value paid time off more than every other benefit, with the exception of healthcare. Not every small business can afford a full paid time off program, but even a limited gesture can go a long way toward creating goodwill.
Rewarding Behavior That is Nice… on a Budget
For those in the retail industry, closing the business early may not be a viable option, so consider:
- Paying a premium rate for hourly employees working on holidays. You may actually get some volunteers.
- Creating a rotating schedule of employees who work holidays so it doesn’t always fall to the same staff members with the least tenure. Remember that employees without spouses and/or children still want to spend holidays with their families.
- Keeping an eye on customer traffic so you can send employees home as business slows toward the end of the day.
When the holiday schedule isn’t something you can adjust, and you have little time or budget to work with, creative stocking stuffers might be the perfect alternative incentive:
- A Gift That Gives Back: Consider paying for a class or certification as part of a wrap up of the prior year’s performance and the upcoming year’s goals / professional development for your promising employees.
- Privileged for a Day: VIP parking, a future date with a flexible work schedule, a choice of job duties, or their pick of a lunch menu can start the day off right.
- Social Experiences: Tickets to big game, the theater, that new art exhibit, the zoo, or amusement park, as an individual reward or as a company gathering – these are all fun activities that can also relieve stress and build social connections.
- Recognition: A plaque on the way of the company hall of fame, a story on the company website, a luncheon in their honor, or being the big award winner at a meeting can build esteem.
- A Small Gesture: For employees who shy away from the limelight and don’t like a big fuss, a simple, genuine handwritten thank you note or email acknowledging their good work is welcome praise.
- Philanthropist at Large: Being able to choose a charity for the company to donate to, or being given time to volunteer, can create a sense of pride and deeper involvement in the company.
- Something Personal: Sometimes just asking what an employee enjoys or collects is an easy way to find a small reward that really means something to them which can be fully appreciated.
At the end of the day, the best incentives are those that show your employees how much they mean to you and the business, that can be as simple as consistent, open communication and expressions of gratitude and acknowledgment when they help the company succeed. After all, a 2017 survey found that respectful treatment of all employees at all levels is a very important contributor to job satisfaction, proving that some job rewards are created just by cultivating a great company culture.
This means that the “rewarding spirit” doesn’t have to be restricted to a particular time of year or holiday, nor should it be if you want to keep morale and productivity high.
But if we’re being honest…
Nobody really enjoys working for the Grinch during the crunch and grind of the holidays, making this an opportune time to find ways to make everything a little merrier for your employees (without blowing the budget), so what’s stopping you?
Click the link to view the recent INFINITI HR blog Compensation That Motivates or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance and benefits.