SurePayroll Insights Survey: Small Business Owners Approach Holiday Gift-Giving with Restraint

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Survey shows business owners are likely to treat employees during the holidays, but hold back with customers and vendors.

If we are making a lot of changes in operations and they work hard and well together, it is a good year. If the business is more profitable I share the reward.

A recent survey of small business owners conducted by online payroll service SurePayroll reveals that most small business owners recognize the holidays with employees in a variety of ways, but choose to keep business separate from their personal lives when it comes to customers and vendors.

The survey found that 95 percent of small business owners recognize the holidays with employees, and that most of them provide monetary bonuses, parties, or gift cards to celebrate the season. In terms of customers and vendors, 70 percent said they do not recognize the holidays at all, or do so via the subtle gesture of a holiday card.

Some small business owners restrict holiday gift-giving because of budget concerns or out of fear of overstepping business relationships without knowing how or if customers and vendors celebrate the season. Others simply don't feel strongly compelled to extend as personal a gesture to customers and vendors as they do to their employees.

"Small business owners are much more comfortable recognizing the holidays with their employees because they see them on a daily basis and know them well, so usually find it a necessity to acknowledge their hard work with more generous rewards," said SurePayroll president Michael Alter. "By the time they treat all their employees, many business owners find it is not in the budget to give gifts to customers and vendors, and simply feel gift-giving to customers doesn't matter very much."

--How do Small Business Owners Recognize the Holidays?--

Most small business owners (84 percent) said they planned to spend the same amount or more on holiday gifts for employees than last year, and also said they were happy to participate in holiday gift-giving with employees.

"It is a time to share the bounty of the business and reward employees," stated one respondent. "If we are making a lot of changes in operations and they work hard and well together, it is a good year. If the business is more profitable I share the reward."

The majority of business owners also said gift-giving with employees was mutual, with 58 percent stating they received holiday gifts from employees.

The majority (67 percent) also said they accept gifts from vendors, and that they usually come in the form of a holiday card or food item.

-- Tips for Small Business Holiday Gift Giving --

Michael Alter offers the following tips for the best methods for small business owners in giving holiday gift-giving to employees, customers and vendors:

  • Providing significant holiday gifts to employees is not always essential or possible, but making sure to think of employees by sending a card or small gift is an easy and inexpensive way to show you appreciate them. If you want to keep the gifts impersonal, consider providing logo goods like sweatshirts, jackets or vests, or food items such as variety gift baskets. If buying personal gifts, be sure to spend about the same amount of money on each employee, as you don't want to send an erroneous message about an employee's worth to the company.
  • While it is always nice to receive gifts, you shouldn't expect employees to give them to you, even if you have given gifts or a holiday party to them. It doesn't mean they don't appreciate it, but might have different viewpoints or means for providing gifts.
  • Sending gifts to customers can be a selfless gesture, but it is probably not a good idea to go overboard, or the gift might come across as a bribe for more business. If you do not know the customers well but want to send a gift, keep it impersonal, and under the $50 mark. Food items and gift baskets are a safe bet. I don't recommend sending logo merchandise alone, as it could be viewed as free advertising, rather than a gesture of appreciation. If you know customers well, always give a gift that reflects their personal interests and shows you've been listening to them. For example, if they are avid golfers, send them golf balls. If they are wine connoisseur, send them wine.
  • Be considerate when addressing the holidays with employees, customers and vendors, keeping in mind that people celebrate the season in many different ways. If you don't know your employees', customers', or vendors' backgrounds especially well, send "season's greetings," as opposed to greetings that address a religious holiday.
  • It is not always necessary to wait until December to give holiday gifts. If an employee has done a particularly good job, or you are especially appreciative of a customer or vendor, a bonus or gift can come early. It is unlikely they will appreciate it any less if not received at the end of the year.

About SurePayroll:

Voted Editor's Choice for best payroll service by PC Magazine, SurePayroll is America's largest full-service online payroll manager. In addition to its payroll and ClickFREE™ tax file and pay service -- which allows a user to complete the entire payroll process in minutes -- SurePayroll provides HR and compliance resources, workers' compensation products and 401(k) retirement solutions designed specifically for small businesses.

SurePayroll also offers a private-label and co-branded payroll service to accounting and banking partners to offer payroll processing to their small business clients.

SurePayroll is passionate about small businesses and their payroll. The company is dedicated to providing an extremely friendly and simple payroll experience - at a price small business owners can afford. For more information, visit

For Media Inquiries Contact:

Frank Krolicki
Walker Sands Communications
Phone: (312) 546-4127
Email: fkrolicki @

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