Many tech startups are only a few steps away from being fully-fledged fly-by-night operations. Until they can grab a firmer hold on the market, only the grit and integrity of those running the company and working for it stands in the way of failure. It’s the sink or swim reality of the tech startup world.
As such, it can be difficult to provide company-sponsored holiday cheer for employees until surer financial footing is reached. This is a shame considering how hard they’re working to help get the enterprise off the ground. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some holiday celebration ideas for cash-strapped tech startups:
Most tech startup owners can’t afford to hand out bonuses to their employees. Many will opt to hand out gift cards instead. However, since gift cards and cash-equivalent certificates count as employee income in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service and must, therefore, be payroll processed and taxed, tech startup owners may want to take advantage of the de minimis fringe benefits rule. It allows for gift certificates for specific low-cost items such as turkeys and movie tickets to be distributed to employees during the holidays without being counted as income. Better yet, it’s possible these certificates can be deducted as a non-wage business expense.
Food and drinks provided within the workplace, such as coffee and donuts, is another employee perk covered by the de minimis rule. During the holidays, tech startup owners can take advantage of this by bringing in delicious baked goods and candy for employees to savor. While we suggest only doing this only once a week during the holiday season – for the sake of employee health – it’s a great way to treat your workers to something special on a tight budget.
Holding a holiday party at the end of the year is another way in which tech startup owners can put the de minimis rule to good use. The occasional workplace gathering falls under this category of employee gift and therefore the expense of hosting such an event can be deducted by the business at the end of the year.
If business has slowed down due to the holidays, giving employees extra paid time off is a great way for the owners of a tech startup to show their appreciation. It lets workers go spend more time with their families during the holiday season, which is something that matters to a lot of people more so than extra money or gifts.
So the office holiday party got a little crazy and a few employees may have had too much to drink and stayed out way past their bedtime. Rather than force them to stumble into the office hungover and holding back the urge to create a technicolor yawn, allow for next-day forgiveness when applicable. Whether it means showing up to work a few hours late or working-from-home, let employees know they can take it easy as long as the work gets done at some point.
If you’re running a tech startup, chances are your company is running on fumes for the time being. This can make it difficult to give employees the holiday celebration they deserve. But with a little bit of planning and practical decision making, tech startups on tight budgets can still manage to provide workers with some holiday cheer.