31% of small businesses planned to give employees a holiday bonus in 2009, a drop from 35% in 2008 and 42% in 2007
Chris Gash 31% of small businesses planned to give employees a holiday bonus in 2009, a drop from 35% in 2008 and 42% in 2007

Through the recession, David Bloomquist, president of Bloomquist Construction, in Savannah, Ga., continued the tradition of giving employees an annual bonus — something he has done every year for the 12 years the company has been in business.

Though Bloomquist Construction’s gross revenue has decreased since 2008, the company cut overhead so it could continue to make a profit. And when three employees left in 2008, Bloomquist didn’t replace them. Having fewer staff has also helped the remodeler maintain the bonus tradition.

“Doing away with [the bonus] is much like doing away with paid vacation or health benefits or some of the other things we provide — good people start to look elsewhere,” Bloomquist says. He needs talented staff who can meet the high standards clients expect. “It takes a long time to cultivate a good team,” he says. “They’re an important part of our success, and we need to be above average in terms of compensation.”

How Much

Bloomquist and his wife, who handles the company’s finances, collaborate to determine the bonus amount, which he says reflects the contribution of the employee and his or her value to the company. They also take customer input into account in their decision.

At times the bonus amount has been decreased to reflect an employee’s unsatisfactory performance. Bloomquist says that it sometimes takes a bonus decrease, as well as a critical performance review, to communicate that to an employee.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.