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Why Christmas Bonuses Should be Abolished Along with Participation Trophies


by Glenn Shepard
November 28, 2017
Category: Management



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The welfare state is a such big part of British life that 64% of all families in the UK receive some kind of government benefits.


Your employees won’t like this.

But I’d rather be the voice of truth and have people blame the messenger for the message, than pretend not to notice the 800-pound gorilla that so many companies ignore.

It’s that time of year when I become The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Bonuses.

Here’s why…

If you have the “Glenn’s Rules of Work” poster in your company, look at Rule #1. It reads “Raises Are Earned, Not Given”.

I borrowed this from the Marine Corps. The next time you see a USMC tractor trailer, look at that beautiful mural of the stainless-steel sword. Above it, you’ll see three words: “Earned, Never Given”.

A sheriff’s deputy who attended my seminar in Maryland last week saw the poster and said “Rule #1 is exactly what a lot of people in my department need to hear. They think they’re entitled to a raise every year even though a lot of them don’t deserve one”.

The same is true of Christmas bonuses.

If you don’t have to do anything to earn a bonus, it’s not a reward – it’s an entitlement. And entitlements are the greatest demotivator in the world.

A minister who recently traveled to the United Kingdom told me he’s amazed at how many able-bodied people rely on government benefits there. A police officer told him he was trying to get “on benefits” because he’d make more than his salary as a police officer.

As odd as that sounds in the U.S. where we believe that accomplishment should be rewarded, we’re drifting away from that principle, starting with our children.

If you’re about 30 or older, you only got a trophy when you were a kid if you came in first place. Today, every kid gets a trophy just for showing up.

As a result, we have a generation that expects to be rewarded for mere participation, instead of actual achievement. Giving a Christmas bonus to everyone just because they’re still there on December 25th is no different.

If your company is currently making this mistake and you’d like to rectify it, replace Christmas Bonuses with Year End Bonuses, which are tied to people’s performance in some way.

Even if it’s something as simple as good attendance, this changes the bonus from an entitlement to an incentive.

Wikipedia defines an incentive as "A factor that motivates a particular course of action", which is exactly what bonuses should do.

To Your Success,

Glenn Shepard
aka The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Bonuses

And yes, I admit to being biased on this subject. As I’ve said for years, I believe in the values of God, the United States Marine Corps, and Dave Ramsey – in that order. I firmly believe that the further we drift from those values, the more problems we will have.

P.P.S. If anyone knows why the Corps did away with their awesome slogan “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” this year, I’d love to hear it. I hope it wasn’t, as rumor has it, to be more politically correct.


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