What do employees really want for the holidays? Cold hard cash.
So says a survey of some 2,500 U.S. adults conducted by jobs and career community website Glassdoor.com and Harris Interactive. The majority (72 percent) put a cash bonus top of the list. Next on the list, with 62 percent, was a raise. Thirty-two percent wanted paid time off that doesn't count against vacation.
Where did a company holiday party rank? At No. 9, with 4 percent asking for one. (And yes, that was even with an open bar.)
"During tumultuous times, cash is king," said Glassdoor.com career and workplace expert Rusty Rueff, who has run global HR departments at Electronic Arts and PepsiCo. "Until employees feel confident in their jobs, have cash in their pockets, can take care of the basics and have enough time to take care of what needs to get done, everything else feels like fluff."
Rueff told The Wall Street Journal's career website that holiday parties actually could irritate employees who may view the money as wasted if it's not being used to help staff make ends meet.
Other ways to make your employees happy this time of year: offering a grocery gift card (23 percent would like this), letting them work from home for a year (14 percent, though we suspect letting them work from home more often also would do the trick) and offering company stock or shares (11 percent). Also ranking above the company holiday party: a health care subsidy (10 percent) and a gym membership (8 percent).
The only things less desirable than a holiday party: a commuter subsidy (3 percent wanted this) and a gold watch or other accessory (2 percent).
Some of the perk preferences split on gender lines: More men (16 percent) said they would be interested in receiving company stock or shares than women (6 percent). What women wanted: The option to work from home for a year (18 percent, compared to 11 percent of men). Women (29 percent) were more likely to prefer grocery gift cards than men (18 percent).
Not only do employees want a bonus, but this year they are optimistic that they actually will receive it. Three in four (73 percent) say they are eligible for one, compared to 63 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, when the market nosedived. Just over half (58 percent) expect to receive a bonus, while 39 percent do not. Twelve percent are unsure. Of those who expect to receive a bonus, 20 percent think it will be more than their last bonus. Sounds like economic optimism is disseminating beyond just small business owners.
Image credit: iStock