Introduction

What To Do When You Can’t Afford to Give a Year-End Bonus

What To Do When You Can’t Afford to Give a Year-End Bonus

Expectations are high. Sure, maybe they don’t think that it’s a slam dunk, and they probably haven’t started to make specific plans on how to use the money but make no mistake about it, they’ve definitely started to mull it over.

For most companies year-end recognition has become the norm and as expected, cash is king. And that’s terrific when it has been a good year with revenues where you wanted them to be and a surplus for the year-end bonus.

But what if that isn’t the situation? What if the year didn’t end as projected and there simply isn’t a surplus of cash to provide those eagerly anticipated bonuses? How can you handle this delicate situation to ensure that the morale and motivation of the employees are not seriously undermined?

To start, employees usually have an inkling that “things” aren’t as good as hoped for. While your company might not be on full throttle austerity, when revenues and profits are not what they need to be employees are often in the know. And they should be. While you might not want to share the full details of your expense to income statement, employees need to understand that the fiscal health of the company is not 100%; not dire but not stellar either.

If you maintained a full staff all year and there were no terminations due to decreased profits then there is actually cause to celebrate. The most recent recession precipitated massive lay-offs and unemployment was (and still is) significant. Your employees know this and the fact that you were able to retain all of them means a lot.

Make it a point to have a company-wide meeting to explain the situation to everyone. Be as transparent as possible and give the employees an opportunity to ask questions and get the reassurance that they need about job security and future of the firm.

Think about other options. Sure you don’t have money to distribute to the staff in the form of a year-end bonus but there are other ways to show appreciation and recognition. These include:

• Extra time off with pay
• Team building event
• Enhanced employee benefits
• Tangible gifts (gift checks, gift certificates, technology items (small), etc.)

Most important is to make certain that your employees feel secure and understand that you are in a rebuilding mode. You just might be surprised how your decision is met by understanding and support by your employees.

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