Holidays on a Budget

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are trying to decide how to handle them with our employees

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are trying to decide how to handle them with our employees. One of the things I am consistently hearing is that practices are no longer able to spend what they used to on their staff. Bonuses may need to be smaller, if they are even given, raises are difficult, and the benefit costs are rising.

With that in mind, I am going to offer a few suggestions on ways to show your appreciation to your employees without spending a lot of money. Then I would like to turn it over to you for ideas you use in your office.

Bonuses are often an issue, especially if you have been generous in the past. How about cutting or eliminating the bonus and giving each employee 4 to 8 hours off to be scheduled (not at the same time) during the first 6 months of the next year? The staff may enjoy the extra time without using their paid time off.

Speak honestly with your employees about the health of the practice. Show each individual employee what their full benefit package includes (salary, taxes and benefits combined). Your costs are much more than what the employee sees in his/her paycheck. Do they realize it?

Rather than a large dinner with spouses, how about closing the office for a few hours (if it is feasible) and having a nice lunch? Lunch is generally cheaper than dinner, and if you have a late lunch, perhaps the staff can have the rest of the afternoon off.

If you are used to a grab bag, you may want to lower the amount that each employee spends. Make a donation on behalf of your employees to a local food pantry or charity that needs your help.

I would really like to share some of your ideas in the next few weeks. Please email and let me know how you plan to celebrate with your employees. I can be reached at

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