Companies Cutting Back On Year-End Perks

Compiled By Yaffa Klugerman
December 3, 2009

As small businesses struggle with reduced revenue this year, many are rethinking ways to reward employees with traditional holiday perks.

The Wall Street Journal reports that according to the American Express OPEN Small Business Holiday Monitor, only 31 percent of business owners expect to give year-end bonuses this year, compared to 44 percent in 2008. Moreover, only 16 percent will give raises, compared to 30 percent last year. Close to a quarter have chosen not to give gifts at all this year. But about 28 percent are turning to more creative gift-giving methods, such as using reward points, bartering and making gifts.

"A larger chunk of the small business population has started to. . .think creatively about how to do things without necessarily spending money," noted Alice Bredin, small business adviser to American Express OPEN, who was quoted in the Journal.

For example, the Journal reports that executives at the Proforma Worldwide Support Center in Cleveland will be scraping snow off all 100 employees' cars at least once a month during the winter. Additionally, they will be allowing employees to take turns using a guest parking space in close proximity to the building. They also will be providing breakfast to employees once a month.

Brian Smith, president of Proforma, explained that it was important for the company to express appreciation to its employees. "We realize this has been a tough year," he said to the Journal, "and so we wanted to come up with ways to show our employees how much we care."

The Associated Press [from an article originally located at] reports that many small businesses are making it a priority to give small gifts to staff members, particularly because so many have worked harder in the current economic climate. One business executive felt badly that she could not give raises or bonuses, but she told the AP that she would be giving gift cards or electronics to her staff.

The New York Times reports that some businesses are cutting costs by combining holiday parties with other companies. Meryl and Andrew Snow, owners of a Philadelphia-based catering company called Feastivities Events, are promoting "Bring Your Own Business" parties to help companies on limited budgets. The first party is set to take place tonight, and the more companies that participate, the cheaper the cost per person.

"We wanted to be as proactive as possible, and said, 'Why not do a full-blown holiday gala and open it to small and midsize companies in Philadelphia and its suburbs?" said Ms. Snow, who was quoted in the Times.

Bredin of American Express OPEN noted in the Times that shared celebrations such as these can be appealing for small business owners. "Employee celebration and thanks is a place where small business owners are looking to save," she said.

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