Ep179: Bonuses in a Bad Year

28 minutes

For a lot of companies, bonus season is coming up. Because this has been an especially strange year, it feels extra challenging to balance the desire to show your people they are valued, while still being responsible to the future needs of your business in uncertain times. Essentially, this episode is all about helping Eliot make decisions, but we get to come along for the ride.  

Why is that important for business? 

Considering how strange and unprecedented the events of 2020 have been, forecasting the cash reserve needs of 2021 feels extra daunting. And there has also been lots of opportunity for the best people on your team to show how very valuable they are this year. Saving for the unknown that is next year is responsible but can also make it more challenging to show staff they are valued. You want to be a bright spot for those that made this year better, and you want to make sure they have a job in the future. 

It is important to recognize that the assumption that people won’t feel valued if they don’t get a monetary bonus might not be correct, and it might help to involve them in the conversation. Of course, if bonuses have become an expectation (as we talked about in this past episode), this decision becomes trickier. But for most people, expectations are well-tempered this year, and many are just grateful to have a job at all. 

It’s important to ask some questions to challenge your assumptions, like: what’s the purpose of the bonuses? How do I want my people to feel when they get them? And can I accomplish that while still preserving most of our cash resources for the great unknown that is 2021? 

A well-intentioned mistake that leaders can make is stretching their business too far to make their people feel valued. If you overextend, you set yourself up for very tricky 2021. And you may be putting your people at risk. Getting creative with showing your appreciation without putting your business in danger is important. 

And if you don’t know how to create that sense of value, you might need to rewind and learn more about your employees first. 

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