I am pretty bad with gifts and in the past years I was awarding monetary bonuses to folks who work with us. I am not particularly keen on the idea of bonuses mostly due to the fact that we can't quite match Wall Street types of give outs due to being bootstrapped company, but even more so because I think it's nice to get a gift rather then money(perhaps I am wrong?). On top of that we always have hard time figuring out actual amounts.
For the past few weeks from time to time I was mulling over what can we give to our team this year. We have a great team of about 11 people, who are extremely dedicated and hard working and I can't quite figure out what to do for them to show our appreciation of everyone's commitment and hard work.
I am curious as to how other small businesses show appreciation to their employees.
If you are able to afford bonuses of over $1000, I'd give the bonus because money is more useful than a gift, especially in this economy. However, if you can only give a bonus of less than $1000, it's probably better to give a gift as your employees may feel like you are being cheap if you give money in that small of an amount. Ideas for gifts that won't seem cheap but could still be under $1000:
You could package a few of those things together. Even better, you could let them choose so that their gift suits them. Just don't do the whole pen or watch as a gift thing.
Although it can be a nice gesture, I don't think there's a requirement to do an employee gift during the holidays. This is particularly true if you're not feeling inspired.
Instead of individual gifts, you might consider using the funds to create an experience that the team enjoys.
Time off is always appreciated. That is the easiest and probably most valuable gift.
Other than that you might have to spend some time and effort finding out what your employees and their families appreciate and value.
Cash can be tough because it can become expected and then also people will take a look at the extra time they put in and then divide the money by the time and come up with a rate that might make them think twice about working extra hours. It might make more financial sense for them to take a second job as a McDonalds worker or cutting lawns.
Many of the smaller companies I have worked at or with take the whole team out for the day to do one or more activities, then for a meal in the evening. You can ask for suggestions from the team and select a morning and afternoon activity to appeal to as many people as possible.
Having a meal in the evening is a good way of bringing in partners and rounding off the day.