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Holidays: Paying for Parties, Job Searching, & Bonuses

Holidays: Paying for Parties, Job Searching, & Bonuses

Question: 

workplace holidays

The office manager just asked me for $20 for "my share" of the company party this Saturday. I felt too cheap to say "no," but I also wondered how I got into this.

Last week when we were asked, "Who wants to go to the Christmas party?" I signed up. I didn't know at the time we had to pay our own way. I felt too cheap not to give her $20 but I'd rather have bought a pizza, stayed home and watched Netflix.

What happened to the employer paying for the Christmas party?

Answer:

According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, one out of every 10 employers plans to ask employees to contribute to their Christmas party with food or money.

Ten percent of employers intend to ask employees to pay for any guests they bring and another 45 percent of employers won't let employees bring any guests to company parties.

SHRM's surveys additionally show that 9 percent of employers in 2013 and 10 percent in 2012 did away with employee holiday parties.

Further, many of the employers that continue the party tradition have cut expenses by moving party venues from restaurants or hotels into employer offices.

Meanwhile, your employer needs to rethink the Christmas party's purpose. If they intended the party to boost morale, they failed -- particularly if other employees felt a bait and switch over being offered a party and then asked for money.

Finally, get ready for more disappointments. While 30 percent of employers gave non-performance-based year-end bonuses to all employees at the end of 2012, only 19 percent plan to do so in 2013.

Question:

I've been out of work since late October. I never thought it would be this hard to get a good job. I've put my resume out for more than 50 jobs but only had two interviews -- both within the last week. I haven't heard back from either employer.

Is the best thing to take a break, just enjoy Christmas and then start again after the first of the year?

Answer:

December provides job seekers their best job-landing month of the year. Because so many individuals decide to wait until after the holidays, those who send out resumes in December get attention from companies with an urgent need to fill vacancies.

Instead of taking a break, take a fresh look at your resume, job search strategies and the cover letter you send. Zero for 50 sends a clear signal. You need to do something different. What is it?

Meanwhile, keep job hunting. If you wait until Jan. 1, you'll be one among many. Your best chance is now.

Question:

Last year we gave every employee a bonus along with a gift certificate. We later learned we should have added both amounts to our employees' end-of-the-year wage statements. Seriously? I've been handing out gift cards for years without considering them "wages."

Answer:

According to the IRS, bonuses constitute taxable income. As a result, employers need to include bonuses on employee W-2s and also withhold federal, FICA and other taxes.

Redeemable gift cards with a cash equivalent value fall into the same taxable category because employers give the cards as a thank-you for performance and potentially provide an incentive for future performance. Unless you purchase the gift cards with personal money, you run counter to IRS regulations by excluding them from employee end-of-the-year wage statements.

If you truly want to give your employees non-taxable gifts, purchase actual presents.

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Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR and owner of the Alaska-based management consulting firm, The Growth Company Inc. consults with companies and individuals to create real solutions to real workplace challenges. Their services include HR On-call (a-la-carte HR), investigations, mediation, management/employee training, executive coaching, 360/employee reviews and organizational strategy services. You can reach Lynne @ www.thegrowthcompany.com, via her workplace 911/411 blog, www.workplacecoachblog.com or @lynnecurry10 on twitter.

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