Sunday, December 10, 2006

Annual Christmas Party Without Christmas Bonus

Like millions of other people around the world, I attended my company’s annual Christmas party today. It was held at a very nice restaurant and the food was good along with the spirits, which flowed freely. While I usually enjoy this annual event, today it seemed a little less excited than it has been the past few years. I’m not sure if the mood of the crowd caused me to feel this way or I am just not as excited about the prospect of Christmas this year. More than likely the reason for my mood change, at this years Christmas party, was because something was missing that had been present in previous years and that involves the Christmas bonus check. Last year, our company was taken over by another larger company and one of their first acts was to cancel the Christmas bonus.

While the Christmas bonus of previous years never amounted to that great a sum of money, it did come in handy at this time of year to make everyone who worked at the company feel extra special and have some much needed cash in the final days of the Christmas shopping season. I have worked for companies who offer Christmas bonuses and other which have not and I can honestly say that the companies who offer a Christmas bonus do have happier and more loyal employees than those who do not. Around a decade ago I worked for a large cable television company that offer a Christmas bonus, which equaled two weeks worth of normal pay. That was the highest Christmas bonus I have ever received and I remember leaving the Christmas party that year feeling happy and joyous at my good fortune to have such a good job.

In a strange sort of way, I think I would have felt better about my company if they would have never offered a Christmas bonus in the first place than to have always provided one and then taken it away. However, I do understand the nature of business in America and attitudes and policies are always changing and when two companies merge or one company is bought out by another one the most important thing is that everyone is able to keep their job. More than likely the newer employees, who have never received a Christmas bonus before, don’t feel as badly as I did today because they didn’t realize what they were missing before they joined the company.

As I get older I do tend to miss certain old time company traditions like the annual Christmas bonus. In recent years, many companies have decided to change their policies in regards to Christmas bonuses for one reason or another, but I think that decision is short sighted and more reflects the attitude of bean counters at the corporate level than a true cost benefit analysis of the situation. The American workforce is made up of people who can decide to change companies in a heart beat these days and with dozens of workers at each company who might be on the fence of either staying at their present job or deciding to look for greener pastures, a Christmas bonus is a nice touch which might cause them to decide to stick with their present employer rather than to make that move to another company which does offer such a bonus as part of their pay package.

Now back to the Christmas party. It was a nice party and everyone was wearing their Sunday best in clothing and the staff at this nice restaurant was ever present to take care of any request we had for additional food or drink. While I would prefer the company to hold our annual Christmas party at a more middle of the road type of restaurant, it does give my wife and I a chance to eat at a restaurant we would never chose to frequent on our limited entertainment budget. One thing I have noticed about really nice restaurants and that is they don’t really offer that much food in the meal for the huge prices they charge for the privilege of eating there. I guess that atmosphere is what they spend their money on because the actual food cost of the restaurant we ate at today would surely be less than any other national chain establishment in town.

The biggest issue I have with up scale restaurants is with the portion size of their salads and desert menus. I am not kidding when I say that the amount of salad they put on my plate was smaller than any salad I have ever eaten. There was very little lettuce and even less tomato and other vegetables like carrots inside the salad. The desert was good, but I doubt if there was even a half a wedge of cake on the huge plate they served the chocolate desert on. When I think about the price my employer paid for a meal which included such a small portion of food, I asked myself wouldn’t a $100 Christmas bonus be more acceptable than a meal for the same price where no one receives enough food to get full? Maybe there are tax reasons why an expensive Christmas party is preferable to an employer giving even a small Christmas bonus or maybe offering a Christmas party causes the company ownership to feel better about themselves? I really don’t know the answer to that question.

The truth is that if polled, most employees of our company would have preferred $100 in cash as a Christmas bonus rather than to receive a $100 meal at a high price restaurant where very little food was actually consumed. Maybe I’m just too entrenched into the middle class and don’t realize the benefits of dressing up nice and eating a Christmas meal at a five star restaurant. However, in the real working world, most families could use this bonus money for Christmas shopping and they would still have more than enough money left over to feed everyone at a fast food restaurant at their local shopping mall when their shopping was finished. Sometimes the difference in the attitudes of the top areas of management are so different from the average worker because they just don’t listen to what their employees really want and just assume that just because eating at nice, five star, restaurants are a regular occurrence in their income class, their average employee would much prefer to be reward with good old fashion, “cold hard cash”, when it comes to a company holiday benefit.

Related: Ebay Christmas Shopping, Holiday Spending Down, PS3 Shopping Madness, LCD or Plasma

Annual Christmas Party

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