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Monday, December 8, 2014

To Give or not to Give that Christmas Bonus

One of the challenges of being a corporate executive or the owner of a business  at Christmastime is whether to take on the role of Santa. This can be done without a red suit, a sleigh, elves, or jolly laughs. All it takes is gifts. Or not.

We know it’s the giving season. But it’s also the “expecting” season for many. It is the expectation of a company Christmas bonus, or gift.

In 2013, I had the privilege to attend one of Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership training programs. The Ramsey organization has developed a reputation over the years for some remarkably creative Christmas parties with wonderful gifts provided. Employees seem truly blessed.

I read an article recently on “The Best Christmas Bonus a Company can Give.” The author brings up some very good points about the risks of company organized Christmas parties. Do you charge, can the company afford to pay, and concern over employees getting out of hand when alcohol is served.

The main arguments raised against Christmas bonuses seem to involve expectations that develop over the years and it’s hard to stop giving them. Also, employees have their own ideas about what should be given. Cited was a Random House bonus a few years ago of $5,000 to each employee! Rare. Really rare.

With these concerns in mind, it is not surprising that a recent survey reveals that 59 percent of companies have stopped the practice of Christmas bonuses. So, why does the author suggest a “best Christmas bonus?” Because he’s not Scrooge, that’s why!

The simple solution offered was to give employees a day off. A surprise day off to do whatever you need to do during a busy Christmas season. It was recommended that when the employee comes in, the surprise is offered. I don’t like that. Who wants to get dressed up and come to work only to be told to go home? But I DO like the idea of the day off.

Maybe it’s not at Christmas time. Maybe it’s some other time when it’s really needed by the person. I’m sure there are plenty of complications for some companies to make this happen, but it is a reward everyone can appreciate.

What did Jesus say about giving? According to a verse in the book of Acts, we’re told this: “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35, ESV) Jesus was the master of giving and expecting nothing in return.

That should be the true spirit of any Christmas bonus or gift. St. Nicholas clearly understood this. His generosity to children has built a tradition that even people with no serious spiritual interest still love to celebrate.

Someone has mistakenly given rise to the thought that Santa keeps a list of our rights and wrongs, making our gift receiving PERFORMANCE based. Bad idea. Terribly bad theology. God’s gift to us of his Son has no price tag involved. It’s a free gift…if we accept Jesus as a sacrifice for us.

If I were doing Santa training, I would have a signed agreement with a sentence that Santa must clearly understand that gifts from him come with no strings attached.

I think I would call it my … wait for it … Santa clause. Ho. Ho. Ho.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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