In Charles Dickens’ holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, the boss, Ebenezer, experiences a last-minute epiphany of generosity toward his employees and family members. Don’t wait for the prompting of ghostly visitors to show your appreciation to your staff this year. As Scrooge found out: giving can be liberating.
Here are eight ideas for spreading holiday cheer this year around the office:
- Paid time off. Everyone enjoys having vacation time around the holidays. One advisor in Oregon closes his office on Dec. 24th and gives his staff a paid holiday through New Year’s. He lets clients know that he is available by cell phone only in case of emergency during this staff vacation. This advisor’s staff enjoys the annual tradition of being able to spend more time with their family during the holidays.
- Christmas bonuses. Don’t be the boss who gives the Jelly-of-the-Month club memberships (like the infamous boss in Chevy Chase’ Christmas Vacation). One advisor in Vermont gives her assistant a $1,000 bonus right before Christmas. Other advisors dole out bonuses equaling one week’s net pay for key employees. Even the unexpected $100 bonus can be greatly appreciated during these tough economic times.
- Gifts from the heart. If you’re not inclined to give cash, give your employees gifts centered on something meaningful in their life or yours. If you’ve got an employee who adores the San Francisco 49ers, for instance, consider an NFL jersey, ball cap or coffee mug. You can give a book that you think your employee might enjoy. Growing up in my parents’ floral business, I saw how my mother always gave her employees collectible items, such as LLadro porceline figurines and other keepsakes. Her gifts weren’t always expensive, but they always reflected her love of beautiful things, and they were a big hit with her loyal employees.
- Food. Food gifts always go over well. Who doesn’t appreciate a Christmas ham from Harry & David? Or an old-fashioned Texas pecan pie from the Goode Co. complete with the wooden box? I’m still partial to See’s Candy, and have fond memories of my grandparents breaking out the box of chocolates to share with visitors.
- Gift certificates. Shower your staff with appreciation by giving them certificates they will truly enjoy. One advisor in the Northeast gives her assistant a $100 gift certificate to her favorite day spa. Other popular gift certificates include: movie theaters, restaurants, department and specialty stores. Sometimes malls and outlet centers let you purchase certificates that can be used at any participating store.
- Christmas wreaths. Nothing says the holidays like fresh balsam wreaths. Try the Bay Leaf Wreath from William Sonoma or a fresh balsam wreath from Maine offered by LL Bean. The LLBean wreaths come in two varieties and have free shipping and no sales tax.
- Shopping excursion. One advisor in Texas gave his assistants a Christmas shopping spree for a day before Christmas. He hired a limousine to pick them up and took care of answering the phones in their absence. He took pictures of the event and everyone enjoyed the day.
- Gift of Charity. Many advisors like to get their office involved in a good cause, such as raising money for the local food bank or a family struggling with an unplanned medical situation. Instead of outrageously expensive holiday parties, set a goal to give 2% of your net profit to charity each year and get your staff involved in finding a worthy recipient. Look for local charities and whenever possible, make your contribution anonymously. Doing good is its own reward.