Jelly of the Month or a cash bonus? Let your employees decide!

Jelly of the Month or a cash bonus? Let your employees decide!

Who can forget that iconic scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, when Clark Griswold thinks he’s finally receiving his holiday bonus check, only to realize that it’s a subscription to the “Jelly of the Month” club?

It’s an extreme example, but we have all been there. Hoping to get a bonus or a thank you from our company that we feel is commensurate with our efforts. Just like each of us is wired differently in terms of how we best achieve results at work, we are also wired differently in what type of recognition speaks to us.

The holiday season is a great time to rethink your approach to employee recognition and/or rewards. If you are so inclined, perhaps consider changing things up and giving your employees a choice this holiday. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Ask your employees if they’d prefer a fancy lunch or party on company time vs. a paid half day off to shop or celebrate on their own.
  • If you typically provide a one-size-fits-all holiday gift to each employee, offer the equivalent to the gift in a shopping gift card or cash bonus instead, and let your employees purchase something they need or want.
  • If you forego holiday gifts or a party due to company financials or goals that fell short, communicate this clearly and explain when you plan to offer a party/bonus/ recognition event in the coming year.

Recent research from shows that a whopping 82 percent of employees reported not receiving enough recognition in the workplace.  The holidays are a wonderful time to show your employees what they mean to you, and that extra step of customizing that recognition will go even further to show them that they are “seen” and “heard” as individuals.

Here’s the punchline: Most employees won’t get excited about jars of jelly!