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What If There's No Money For A Holiday Bonus?

Susan Solovic has ideas for small business owners.
7:08 | 12/12/12

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Transcript for What If There's No Money For A Holiday Bonus?
Tis the season for holiday bonuses. Or is it a turbulent economy has caused many employers to cut back on employee perks. So how small business -- thank his or her employees without writing a check. Here with some answers as ABC news small business contributor seasons all of that hi -- Susan hi Tonya happy holidays thinking you say yeah unfortunately what we're gonna talk about is not so happy the business environment -- clearly changed since the economic downturn. Is it still standard and to give a holiday bonus these days. Know the traditional holiday bonus has gone by the wayside. In fact the last few years small the small businesses have not been able to give holiday bonuses to their employees that's true also in big companies as well. You may remember the old. And Chevy Chase maybe Christmas vacation where -- starts building the pool in his backyard and that is boss comes and says oh. Your holiday bonus this year it's the jelly of the month club well you know so -- but I think employees are not anticipating those holiday bonuses. But that doesn't mean that this year employers aren't going to be doing anything. Only 20% of employers say now that -- Aren't going to be doing anything this year all for their employees so you might not be getting just a lump of coal he might be getting something a little extra cash is having if you feel like to this is a tougher year than the previous year and you had given bonuses in the past. Do you feel like you need to talk to your employees to sort of manage their expectations. Certainly I'm a big proponent of open book management which is sharing your financial condition with your employees. I think employees know that things are tough out there even though we've heard some reports that the on the economy is getting better. I think they're still very much aware that things are top but if you just demonstrate to them look revenues are down. Expenses are here's where we are still appreciate your honesty in your candor -- out what about -- holiday parties a little bit more modest this year. Well actually Tonya and that's been the trend in the past either. Businesses have been cutting them out completely are certainly scaling them back but the research is showing that this year. And more employers are offering holiday parties and they're going to be spending a little bit now -- yeah a little bit more festive it you know the great thing about that is it's a good morale -- certainly it's been tough these past few years for the good morale booster and it's a great way for the business owner the manager to give a heartfelt thanks to the employees. And it really picks -- spirits and employees appreciate it absolutely and then there are some alternatives. You say to even at the party or that monetary -- there are other ways you can show you employees. That -- thank all of -- first let me say if given the gift of time. Yes this is a very popular gift with employees. If you can't give bonuses and a lot of employers haven't been able to give pay raises or bonuses the last several years. So employees have been working longer and harder than they have in the past so why not give them an extra day off. A big hit and employees will appreciate it and it really doesn't break your budget at that is a big morale booster for assured -- -- adding gift card tree. Yes -- when I love so what we did this actually one year in my company we went out and we bought gift cards for employees. -- all of their favorite places the coffee shops they like the lunch spots they like. And we bought those like in 25 dollar ten denominations and we put them in generic envelopes and place them on the tree. And -- our little holiday party they got to pick the gift card off the tree that they want it. And there was a little you know changing back in Florida look -- -- -- But it was -- Ireland and I appreciated that when they go to use that they also thank you remember that you were thanking them absolutely and I along -- -- that with a special services that you -- yes special -- -- another great way to say thanks without breaking your budget so I think about the things that your employees might not spend money on for themselves -- -- service perhaps our car detailing one company -- they brought a car detailing service on to their parking lot and actually detailed the cars of all their employees as their holiday -- what are what a deal yeah. I would I'd go for that now what a little extra education or training on the job training. That's also a very useful. It is very useful so that you know don't related necessarily to business think about your employees and water their special -- so for example. Maybe you can give somebody a photography class that they're interested in photography. Or Spanish lessons of they're going to Mexico -- -- summer vacation you know there -- a lot of innovative things that you can do that wouldn't be. -- it really expensive that would be greatly appreciated the sound like very personalized it right very thoughtful gifts. And then of course you have a wrapping service that -- off -- -- I have four -- grandchildren and they're just a little spoiled by me I can't imagine I I would love it if you know someone brought in -- wrapping service and I can bring on all the gifts and just get it done you have could be a real stress reliever -- for employees of wells again. I love that I actually -- wrapping presents and I might yet give myself an eight. Combined I think it's. I get injured over the ribbons not a and what about a barter. Service -- bartering also small businesses have found the bartering is a great way during this recession to get the products and services that they need for their businesses. So you could barter for product -- service as a gift for your employees. But you know be careful with that because you don't want to overextend yourself even though you're not shelling out cash for these products. You are gonna have to extend your resources in your business in order to get back in return for those gifts are those products or services so you don't over extend yourself absolutely and he did mention its cash bonuses again if you do you decide to get some cash bonuses to employees. What what do you need to keep in mind. Well there are two types of bonuses there's one that's based on -- -- and then there's one based on performance of you're giving the gift. A performance moment bonus make sure you. Clearly articulate the criteria. You used in order to determine the amount if you're giving a gift you want to make sure that you give this same thing to everybody employees do talk now here's something to keep in mind. Employees have to pay taxes on those bonuses so you wanna talk to your tax professional again to make sure that it's managed correctly and that your employees are aware that you have to take -- the taxes -- -- -- -- now that the employee's responsibility -- not you -- it would be your -- you obviously you're withholding taxes right just like you would in their paycheck right and -- -- much higher rate for bonuses. It's not it would be at their from their normal the normal hearing right but it -- and the certainly diminish the amount. Of that checks out to our you know the thing is about giving gifts you can give a smaller -- yet another token -- but a smaller -- not spending as much money. But if you only like they had 25 dollars. And you give an employee attacked for 25 dollars you -- withhold taxes that's going to be you know certainly down -- Nothing yet -- magnolia get a -- -- a half -- pretty -- yeah well I ain't gonna be like scourge are your. All right our times best selling -- Aaron ABC news small business and junior seasons -- thank you so much my pleasure -- on it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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