by Roy Saunderson | December 15, 2014
The traditional Christmas bonus is viewed more as an act from the past than something that typically happens today. Still, there is something to be said for company leaders making time to express appreciation to employees in some shape or form at the end of another year. Consider these Top 10 Ways to End Off the Year with Employees.

1. Make sure you acknowledge your employees' contributions. Employees want to know you care about them, that you value them, and that what they do matters to you. Make time to go around and visit and thank employees, send notes to tell them so, or greet and mingle at a town hall meeting. 

2. Giving something to your employees can really help in retaining them.  The principle of reciprocity causes people to want to give their loyalty and commitment to the giver. Employees receiving bonuses were 71 percent more likely to stay with current employers.

3. When you can give a bonus remember to make it a big deal. Don't let the bonus just be an extra line on the pay statement. Flag it, communicate it and let everyone know. One study showed that 9 percent of employees couldn't remember if their employers had given them bonuses last year.

4. Never neglect to say thank you, no matter what you give. Too often we give the tangible award, bonus, or gift and think the item given communicates our thanks. Accompany any tangible acknowledgment with some form of expressed appreciation - whether spoken or written. 

5. Wrap up a special memory to take home from work. My own company does a special gift-wrapped company gift for each employee received at the Christmas party celebration. Many have been special, uniquely designed, Christmas tree ornaments that we hang up with fond memories each year.

6. Generational differences can impact expectations. It seems with employees in the 18-25 year-old range, 56 percent of them said they expect something from their employer. Contrast that with only 34 percent of employees aged 55 years and older expecting something. Choose well what to give, but try to give something.

7. Create the right message that fits your brand. Whether a simple branded designed card with a handwritten expression, a unique calendar, or a collection of great thoughts in infographic poster format - put thought into communicating your respect and appreciation in a special way.

8. Where feasible, close down earlier than usual. Time is precious over the holiday season and is always a valuable gift to give to people. Wherever operational demands permit, and even if you have to stagger who goes when, giving early departure times over the holiday season will always go over well.

9. One-on-one meetings with the boss. When a positive relationship exists between employees and a boss, have managers make time for a brief but personal meeting with each employee. This is simply a time for managers to personally express appreciation for their employee's contributions.

10. Expressing thanks to the masses. The CEO or general manager can stop work and hold one big town hall meeting, or several sessions to personally acknowledge the great work everyone is doing. If the enterprise is large, a video recorded personal message can be emailed out to every employee.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and is the Chief Learning Officer of Rideau's Recognition Management Institute, a consulting a training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right. He can be reached at [email protected] Also, check out the library of Real Recognition Radio shows.