bonus plans that work

Do you often grapple with the dilemma of how much to bonus your employees, or if your current bonus system truly resonates with them? If you’re nodding along, you’re not alone. Many business owners in the construction industry express that bonuses have become an expected annual tradition, leading to a mix of resentment and feeling unappreciated when their generosity isn’t met with the enthusiasm they hoped for.

Bonus Expectations: A Common Conundrum

Imagine the scenario of Dean, a general contractor, whose employees expected bonuses every year just as a part of their pay, but never thanked him for it —perhaps a familiar echo in your own business.
It’s a tricky spot, balancing generosity with a desire for gratitude. Let’s face it, with the intense competition for skilled labor, bonuses can feel more like a bidding war than a reward. But before you write off the concept, let’s consider the purpose behind your bonus. Is it obligation driving you or the genuine wish to acknowledge hard work?

Two Critical Steps to Effective Bonuses

When pondering over bonuses, ask yourself, why are you giving them? Are they just a tick on your end-of-year checklist, or do they serve a higher purpose? Here’s a blueprint for making bonuses more than a mere obligation:

  1. Define Your Intent: Start with why. Understanding your intent for giving a bonus—whether it’s to express appreciation or to keep up with industry standards—will guide your strategy.
  2. Personalize Acknowledgment: A personal touch can make all the difference. Take Lisa, a project manager at Dean’s company for instance. A simple note detailing her proactive efforts and dedication to improving operations turned a standard bonus into a heartfelt gesture of appreciation.

Bonus Ideas: From Simple to Elaborate

Not all bonuses have to break the bank. Here are some tailored suggestions for your team:

  • Gift Cards and a Party: Celebrate the year’s success with something everyone can enjoy.
  • Profit Sharing: Consider a lump sum divided by a weighted average of employee salaries.
  • Position-Based Rewards: A flat amount for each role, reflecting their unique contributions.
  • The Gift of Time: A paid week off during the festive season can be a valuable gift.

The Power of a Personal Note

What made a difference for Dean was a shift to meaningful, individualized notes that paired with the bonuses. It’s about grounding each reward with specific, genuine recognition. Like the note to Lisa, where her commitment was not only acknowledged but also celebrated with tangible examples, showing her real, valued impact on the company.

Your Turn to Shine

If the idea of setting up an effective bonus program seems daunting, consider the advice above. And remember, irrespective of the bonus size or type, including a personal acknowledgment can be the most impactful gift you give your employees.

We Want to Hear from You!

If you’ve got innovative ideas on bonusing, or stories of what’s worked for you, share them in the comments. Let’s build a community where we learn from each other and elevate our teams together.

Bonus Better

Bonuses are a powerful tool when done right. They can boost morale, foster loyalty, and enhance productivity. By following the steps outlined, you can create a bonus program that truly appreciates and motivates your employees.

Watch and Learn: Bonus Blueprint That Works!

Click the video to dive deeper into crafting a bonus system that works for your business. Use it, share it, and let’s grow together. Don’t let another year end in unappreciated gestures. Bonus with intent and watch appreciation, and your business, thrive.


  1. Bob. C.

    I have been giving everyone the week paid between Xmas and new years off for years. Not only do they appreciate the time off but their families especially do also. ( our clients especially enjoy the quiet time in their homes too.)win win all around

    • Vicki Suiter

      Thank you Bob for sharing what you do for bonuses with your team – that’s awesome!


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