18 Creative Holiday Bonus and Incentive Ideas

You found our list of the best holiday bonuses and incentive ideas.

Holiday bonuses and incentive ideas refer to any initiative an organization takes to reward or recognize employees for good work at year’s end. Examples include monetary rewards, professional development opportunities, and extra vacation time. These gestures allow businesses to recognize and appreciate their workers while boosting morale and output on the job.

Bonuses are among the best employee holiday gifts and Christmas gifts for remote workers. These incentives also make excellent last-minute Christmas gifts.

This article includes:

  • holiday incentive ideas for small businesses
  • holiday incentive program ideas
  • holiday incentive ideas for employees
  • holiday bonus ideas for employees
  • holiday bonus tips

Here we go!

List of holiday bonus and incentive ideas

Companies need a reward system to attract new employees or encourage present staff to stay committed to their jobs. The following holiday incentive ideas for employees may be the most useful during the holiday season.

1. Monetary Rewards

Simple rewards may be among the most powerful motivators. Incentives in the form of cash are always attractive, especially over the holidays, when employees are more likely to be spending money, One study from SHRM found that 44% of workers left for higher pay. Offering financial incentives around the holidays may help retain staff.

Your approach to monetary rewards can take different forms. The simplest option would be to raise hourly pay at busy times. Businesses may provide various financial incentives, such as a one-time holiday bonus or tiered prizes for working shifts. It could be worthwhile to provide vacation workers higher wages. Double-time pay and regular overtime compensation are two common premiums.

You can give your staff a Christmas bonus based on your budget. While doing so, do not skimp. You should remember that the incentive has to be substantial enough that workers could voluntarily work the holiday. The worker’s salary is an important consideration as well. A worker whose daily wage is $50 may be satisfied with a bonus or gift card worth just $25. An employee who makes $150 per day could be more interested in a bonus of $75 to $100 or a gift card.

2. Referral Programs

Referral systems make great holiday incentive program ideas. If current staff members can recommend qualified applicants, it is not necessary to waste time by having recruiters advertise job openings online. For a good reason, many companies provide incentives for referring qualified candidates, especially during the holidays when business is at its peak. In terms of return on investment, 82 percent of businesses in a CareerBuilding survey said staff recommendations were tops. You can keep a steady stream of applicants by regularly reminding your staff of this perk. Employees will value this perk since they will be financially compensated for referring highly qualified applicants who they believe will thrive in your company’s culture. This option also allows workers to earn extra money to get their holiday needs.

Reward points make it simple to create tiers in which applicants get increasing benefits depending on the success of their candidates in subsequent interview stages. Sending a reference might earn an employee 1,000 points, or $10. The incentive might increase as the referral moves up the stages. With this method, you will not need to set up a separate referral program. Instead, you can simply include referrals into your existing rewards and recognition system.

3. Extra Vacation Time

One of the best holiday bonus ideas for employees is granting extra vacation days. Employees’ time off compensates for the extra time they put in over the holidays. You can also structure these rewards in tiers, with higher tiers being unlocked when employees work more holiday hours or hit higher productivity benchmarks. Holiday periods tend to be busy for many businesses, meaning workers will appreciate the chance to spend more time with their families and friends.

These rewards, like monetary incentives, may take many forms. An option is providing employees with an additional paid vacation day or two that they may spend any way they see fit. Workers also can take extra sick days or receive more flexible work hours from their employers.

4. Profit Sharing

Profit-sharing plans are a form of defined contribution scheme that can replace or improve conventional plans like 401ks. Under a profit-sharing scheme, employees get contributions in cash or stock to their retirement account, and occasionally they get direct payments.

Besides the obvious monetary benefits, profit sharing encourages workers to think of themselves as owners rather than merely employees. That way, workers feel more connected to the firm and are motivated to stay around and put in the hard work necessary to see the company succeed.

If a profit-sharing plan is not a good fit for your business, you may still utilize retirement benefits as an incentive by matching workers’ 401k contributions. In most cases, you can cap the matching contribution at a certain proportion of the worker’s salary.

5. Coupons, Discounts, and Gift Cards

As part of your holiday incentive program ideas, you might provide gift cards or discounts to local businesses as another creative option. If a company cannot provide a discount or free service to its workers, it often does offer gift cards or some other kind of compensation. These rewards function similarly to monetary bonuses but provide employees with a unique opportunity to indulge in a pastime or see a new landmark. If you want to show your appreciation or congratulate someone in the workplace for a job well done, you distribute gift cards to practically any holiday store or restaurant. A gift card is a flexible and personal way to reward staff, especially for a product or service the recipient already enjoys.

Employees who put in extra hours may, for instance, be rewarded with a free month of a gym membership. Employees may value the chance as they prepare to implement their New Year’s resolutions. Gift certificates to neighborhood shops might help them finish their Christmas shopping or serve as a reward for themselves.

6. Holiday Get-Together

Companies can show their staff some Christmas cheer by hosting a party. Time spent relaxing and having fun with coworkers might reduce the effects on morale of working throughout the holiday season. Incentives like social gatherings foster employees’ feelings of belonging, boosting their motivation and output.

Party activities could consist of food, games, gift exchanges. Businesses may spice up the holiday party by offering menus than the traditional turkey and entertainment beyond a visit from Santa to increase attendance.

7. Health and Wellness Incentives

Incentives for employees’ physical and emotional well-being are essential for firms concerned about avoiding burnout and maximizing productivity. This idea is particularly important in light of the current stressors on the workforce, as research published in CNBC, shows 59 percent of employees are taking fewer vacation days than usual and 42 percent of telecommuters have no plans for a break.  Simple ideas for your organization include:

  • Free healthy lunches
  • On-site health tests
  • Bike-to-work reimbursements
  • Standing workstations
  • Yearly wellness fairs

You can also reward employees who achieve health goals, such as giving up smoking or meeting a step goal. Using a centralized rewards marketplace to incentivize employees to adopt healthy behaviors at work and at home is an effective strategy for promoting employee wellness. Wellness programs, incentives, and acknowledgment for workers are all simplified by integrating platforms.

Since many folks hope to adopt healthier habits as new years resolutions, the holidays can be an apt time to introduce these incentives.

8. College Debt Payment

Modern workers value education and training highly. According to data compiled by EdAssist, 79 percent of workers see tuition reimbursement as either critical or extremely important when deciding where to work. Employees who participated in Cigna’s tuition aid program were also more likely to remain with the firm and to get promoted.

Every staff member, from the receptionist to the CEO, should actively engage in ongoing professional development. This great practice may be further solidified by offering tuition reimbursement. One strategy to foster a culture of appreciation is to promote lifelong learning. Team-signed digital cards and public acknowledgment of the employee’s accomplishments are great ways to show appreciation for workers who have achieved educational milestones like earning a new certification or finishing a Master’s degree.

9. Corporate Outings

Another holiday incentive is to organize a company picnic or other trip if funds permit. You may take the team on an exotic little vacation if you have the money, or you could stick to something basic like a night of bowling or go-kart racing. Corporate trips, like Christmas parties, are great for bringing the staff together for quality time and conversation. This outing may strengthen relationships within the group and promote higher-quality collaboration in the workplace. However, trips are often more time-consuming and involve more planning than the other alternatives on our list, which means they may be challenging to manage over the holidays.

Some great holiday-themed corporate outing ideas include tree-lightings, holiday shopping trips, holiday baking classes, and ice-skating.

10. Team Retreats

Team getaways allow coworkers to relax and bond in a less formal setting. Companies often utilize retreats as a kind of employee incentive to recognize teamwork and the achievements of their employees. Your team may interact, communicate, and continue to learn from one another during these trips, which might take the form of a day retreat at a nearby hotel or a week-long journey away from the city.

Workers like getting to know one another outside of work. Happy hours in the office not only give much-needed social time, but they may also serve as reward celebrations for the completion of a project, the attainment of a goal, or the observance of a holiday.

You can use the end of the calendar year as a mile marker, and invite the top-performing employees on a retreat the following year.

11. New Equipment

Employers might reap longer-term advantages from offering holiday bonuses occasionally. Some companies provide new office equipment to workers who put in extra time during the holidays or achieve a certain level of productivity. Such upgrades can include new and improved office furniture, pallet jacks that are less cumbersome to use, or an elevator to bypass the stairs.

These innovations will benefit businesses in the long term since they increase productivity. Since the incentives make their lives easier, employees will value them. While this choice may not be as appealing to workers, it still has merit and benefits everyone involved.

Listening to employee feedback may help businesses evaluate which improvements will have the most impact. You can determine the winner by deciding whether or not there are recurring problems that modern machinery can resolve.

12. Donations to Nonprofit Organizations

The holiday season might inspire workers to be more generous than usual. As a result, businesses now have access to charitable giving, a novel, but powerful incentive. Companies might make charitable contributions in their names as an alternative to giving employees cash. Businesses may conduct anonymous surveys or ask their employees directly to determine where their employees would want their company’s charitable contributions made. In either situation, workers will see a charitable contribution from the company in exchange for their efforts. To keep working through the holidays, it might help if workers know their efforts are making a significant impact.

Volunteering on company time shows appreciation for workers while also helping them feel more connected to their employer. Similarly, this perk offers several chances for workers to connect with the company as a whole, thereby fostering a positive work environment.

13. Professional Development Opportunities

Lack of opportunities to further one’s career is a leading cause of job dissatisfaction and turnover. Indeed, research shows 20 percent of 2019’s workforce turnover may be attributed to employees seeking new opportunities in their fields. Providing workers with avenues to climb the corporate ladder may have the opposite impact.

Businesses can provide many career tracks as a holiday incentive for employees. Employees might have free access to relevant courses, seminars, and rotations within different company sections. Workers who want to advance in their jobs will be encouraged to work through the holidays for the sake of these bonuses. These opportunities are also great for employees who have included upskilling as part of their new year resolutions.

14. Subscription Services

Whether a monthly streaming service or a monthly food service that delivers precise ingredients for high-quality meals, subscription services are commonly utilized and well-liked. While the goals of each subscription may vary, many may be used as a token of appreciation for employees who consistently go above and beyond. These rewards may inspire workers and be a special way to acknowledge their efforts. Subscription services are great holiday bonus tips. Since holidays can get quickly stressful, your employees will appreciate an opportunity to unwind and relieve tension with the rest their families.

15. Flexible Work Schedules

For some workers, their output is higher outside of normal business hours. Employers may encourage self-motivation by giving flexible working hours so that workers can put in their best work when it best suits them. While most offices adhere to a 9-to-5 schedule, “flex scheduling” allows certain workers to work whenever they are most productive, within or outside regular business hours. Flexible work schedules is one of the most common holiday incentive ideas for small businesses. This option gives your workers more personal time to handle holiday shopping or travel if their family stays in another state. Plus, since the holidays tend to be the most hectic times in most folks’ lives, flexible hours allow employees to run seasonal errands with less stress.

16. Public Acknowledgement

In some cases, all it takes to encourage an employee is a sincere appreciation for their efforts. Knowing that someone else sees and appreciates you is important since almost half of all Americans report feeling lonelier currently than usual.

Firms can provide recognition-related incentives with several methods. You can consider a wall of fame or other visible display of honor for workers who excel during the work year. Also, managers might show their thanks by penning individual handwritten Christmas cards to each employee. This bonus works well in tandem with others. Top achievers might be honored in front of their coworkers at holiday parties and given extra vacation time or monetary bonuses.

Another great idea is to hang ornaments branded with your employees’ names over the office’s Christmas tree. For example, you can create a gallery of trees with “star” employees. If you have the budget, consider ordering custom Christmas cookies that say “thanks” and share. such gestures go a long way in showing your employees how much you care and pay attention.

17. Fun Gifts

A party honoring your staff sends a message that you value them. Work anniversaries, customer service weeks, global wellness days, and boss’s days are all fantastic opportunities to show appreciation for employees with a gift. You may make each of these celebrations more exciting by holding competitions and quizzes, and rewarding and praising workers who participate in them in large numbers.

Massages, catered lunches, and even a half day off work are all popular employee presents. Gifts of tech gear, tasty refreshments delivered or in-office, and high-quality swags are also great ideas. Employees who would like to pick out their own presents would appreciate gift cards.

18. Project Selection

A great method to motivate and empower high-performing staff is to let them choose their projects. Many businesses thrive better when managers stop telling their staff what to do and instead let them choose their own projects. A meta-analysis published in the Harvard Business Review indicated that workers are more inclined to trust leaders who give them autonomy in the workplace. Employees who believe their company supports them are more likely to support their organization by going above and beyond to produce excellent outcomes consistently, therefore, it is wise to prioritize this incentive and other measures to promote an atmosphere of trust.

Naturally, you need to ensure that each employee is interested in and motivated by the projects you provide. A generic, all-encompassing reward is less effective. Team leaders and staff should have regular conversations with workers about their short- and long-term objectives and professional interests, and assign work accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Keeping employees engaged over the holidays might be difficult but it is not impossible. Holiday incentive ideas have the potential to motivate workers to give their all at this yearly peak. You should carefully consider your company’s needs, budget, and effectiveness of various incentive programs before deciding how to best reward your staff.

You should distribute bonuses consistent with your financial plan and the money you earned this year. You should not jeopardize your company’s finances by presenting expensive presents to your team that you cannot afford. However, as the old adage goes, it is the thought that counts.

Next, check out holiday swag ideas.

FAQ: Holiday bonus and incentive ideas

Here are frequently asked questions about holiday bonuses and incentive ideas.

What are holiday bonuses and incentives?

Holiday bonuses and incentives are a nice gesture to show appreciation for workers’ efforts throughout the year. Your organization’s morale, loyalty, output, and bottom line will all benefit from rewarding employees for their efforts.

What are some good holiday bonuses and incentive ideas?

Some good holiday bonuses and incentive ideas include charitable donations, company outings, and holiday get-togethers. You can also consider giving employees gift cards, coupons, and discounts.

Why are holiday bonuses and incentives important?

The importance of holiday incentives is growing as labor shortages persist and e-commerce expands. Regardless of the circumstances, the end of the year is a good time for any company to think about thanking their personnel. Holiday bonuses increase productivity and employee satisfaction while reducing turnover rates.