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Bonus Alternatives that Don’t Break the Bank

bonus alternatives

With the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Hawaii businesses won’t be able to hand out large annual bonuses come year end.

While employee appreciation might not be top of mind for you during this time, lack of recognition continues to be one of the top reasons why employees quit, even in a tough labor market.

So now more than ever, showing your appreciation needs to be on your radar and it doesn’t have to break the bank; here are six low-cost alternatives that you could consider if typical bonuses aren’t an option this year.

Verbal appreciation and praise

 Make some time during the day to let your employees know how much you appreciate their commitment and how they’ve contributed to the company this year. You could say it in a card, in person, or give a speech during your next staff meeting. It’s free and simple but has the power to validate their hard work.

Gift cards

The Hawaii business community has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, so when choosing to get your employee’s gift cards this year, consider supporting local business partners, vendors, or neighboring businesses with your purchase. Gift cards don’t need to be for significant amounts when times are tough, but rather it is the intention and thought behind the card that matters most. Be sure to include this sentiment and gratitude for your team along with the card.


Who doesn’t love receiving food as a thank you? Whether it’s coffee and malasadas for breakfast, pizza or bento lunch, or some cookie treats, providing or sending food is a great way to not only show appreciation to your employees but also contribute to the local foodservice industry.


Extra time off after a tumultuous year like 2020 can make a world of difference to a stressed-out employee. You could consider granting your staff an extra PTO day or implementing rotating half-day-Fridays in January. Getting time off that you didn’t expect feels like the adult version of playing hooky and makes the extra time that much sweeter.

Related: Ask HR: “How Can Businesses Manage PTO Policies During COVID-19?”

Holding a glass of white wine up during a virtual chat for virtual happy hourVirtual holiday parties

Consider taking your holiday party online in 2020. You could send invitations along with a cocktail hour box, or host a virtual company cooking party by sending out shopping lists along with grocery store gift cards to virtually prep a recipe together. The creative ideas are endless and can cost as little or as much as you want.

Ask your employees about what they want

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and your employees will know best what they could use to feel most appreciated. Some might get the best use out of a gift card to a restaurant they’ve been meaning to try, while others could most benefit from some extra time off. Consider checking with your staff to let them pick if the size of your team allows for some personalization.


Have a question for one of our HR experts? To learn more about this issue or to schedule a free consultation on the advantages of human resources outsourcing, contact simplicityHR.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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