Years ago, the holidays would be signified in the workplace with a slim envelope from the boss. It might contain a check, or a few $20s — or maybe even a few $50s.

In many companies, that gesture has fallen by the wayside, replaced instead by a holiday party, company-wide luncheon, or a token of appreciation.

What should you do to recognize your employees around the holiday season? Here are a few options to consider:

1. Cash

Yes, cash is still king — and it’s always appreciated by employees. Be sure to distribute this gift discreetly, like in a holiday card, and consider giving the same amount to every employee.

2. A physical gift

Consider a gift suitable for all employees regardless of gender or age. If you have an open office plan, perhaps noise-canceling earphones would be appreciated. Retail? Clean new aprons with employee names embroidered on them might be a fun gift.

Arianna Huffington used to give every staffer a sweater each holiday season, although she later switched to pajamas to enforce her writing on healthy sleep habits.

3. A donation

If the spirit of giving moves you, consider a donation to a cause in your area or close to your company’s mission. If you already participate in community outreach activities, you may already have an organization in mind to support in a greater capacity around the holidays.

If you choose this route, share the decision with your employees, and offer them a chance to learn more about the organization you’re supporting.

4. Profit-sharing

Instituting a profit-sharing plan can award your employees at the end of the year, but won’t require you to come out of pocket if the company experiences revenue slumps from time to time.

5. A year-end bonus

You may opt to offer quarterly or yearly bonuses to employees who meet certain goals. If you take this route, be sure to document your policy well ahead of the end of the time period to determine who gets a bonus and under what circumstances.

6. Opportunities to learn

Some employees may be excited to take a class or learn a new skill. Consider programs that can help your staff advance their skills or learn about adjacent roles in your company.

Paying for conference registration and travel is another way to offer learning opportunities to staff members. If you don’t have an education-stipend program in place yet, the holidays can be a good time to announce such a launch for 2017.

What employee gift options work best for your small business? Meet with a SCORE mentor to discuss your options.

About the Author(s)

 Bridget  Weston

Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

Businesspeople wearing festive hats in modern office exchange gifts