Tis the season … for annual raises and holiday bonuses. Right?

Not so fast. An annual holiday bonus or merit increase is not a mandate. That said, your employees may be expecting these even if your practice didn't have a banner year.


Watch as the Shorrs discuss negotiation.

Many or your employees may already be rubbing their hands together in anticipation of this year's reward. About 75 percent of human resources executives say their companies will give their workers extra cash for the holidays this year, up from 67 percent in 2015, according to a recent survey by Accounting Principals, a staffing firm for accounting and finance professionals. The average expected bonus in 2016 is $1,081, compared with $858 in 2015.

This is just an average—from a different industry with different expectations on employees—but it's important to clearly define well ahead of time how much your business can afford, who deserves it the most, and what guidelines apply toward future increased compensation. It doesn't have to be cash, either. There are many ways to reward employees during the holiday season, including pay increases, paid time off, additional health benefits, gift cards, turkeys/ham or vegan food, employee of the month/year parking spot, and more.

Always check with your tax advisor to make sure that you are abiding by IRS statutes, since many of the added benefits just may be subject to payroll taxes.

Santa Versus Scooge: Where Do You Fit In?

So are you a Santa or a Scrooge when it comes to holiday giving? That depends on how, what, and why you give your employees during this time of year. There are as many reasons to provide raises and bonuses as there are to abstain, and your policy on such can render you a Santa or a Scrooge.

Do you give raises because it's that time of the year?

Many practices still give raises on an annual basis because they feel they are supposed to and as a result their employees have come to expect, if not demand, such rewards.

Verdict: You are a Santa.

Do you only provide a cost of living increase ?

This is by far the worst type of salary increase, because it does not foster motivation toward future success in your practice. Some may even take this as a slap in their face if they have worked hard over the course of the year. (Remember how Bob Cratchitt felt about the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge in the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol?)

Verdict: You are a bit of a Scrooge.

Is your policy “No Bonus, No Raise, No How”?

Not all practices give out raises or bonuses, especially if it has been a difficult year. This can be hard to swallow for employees if it is a change in behavior from previous years.

Verdict: N/A. If it was truly a tough year, be honest with your employees and ask for their help and loyalty as you try to make 2017 stronger. Remember not all bonuses are cash. (Calls to recruiters do tend to spike soon after annual raises and bonuses are (or are not) allocated.)


There are many ways to reward employees during the holiday season; Always check with your tax advisor to make sure that you are abiding by IRS statutes, since many of the added benefits just may be subject to payroll taxes.

Do you reward employees for hard work?

This is by far the most concrete and definable reason to provide raises and/or bonuses. Hopefully, you have implemented an annual review process and your employees have met set goals. These are concrete metrics to help determine how well the employee is doing on the job.

Verdict: You are a Santa.

Do you do it because you have to?

Some raises or bonuses are pre-negotiated as part of an employment agreement.

Verdict: You are neither Santa nor Scrooge. Instead, you are obligated unless the employee has not met up to his or her side of the bargain.

Regardless of the reason for the bonus or raise, always call the employee into the office and explain the reasons for the increase or other benefits being offered. This allows both for bilateral dialogue. It also allows you to sense the level of appreciation and determine just how vested said employee is in your practice.

Jay A. Shorr BA, MBM-C, CAC IX is the founder and managing partner of The Best Medical Business Solutions assisting physicians in maintaining additional profitability in their practices. He is also a nationally known professional motivational speaker and writer, an advisor to the Certified Aesthetic Consultant program and a certified medical business manager from Florida Atlantic University. He can be reached at info@thebestmbs.com

Mara Shorr, BS, CAC II-X serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for The Best Medical Business Solutions, assisting medical practices with the operational, financial and administrative health of their business. She is a Level II - IX Certified Aesthetic Consultant and program advisor, utilizing knowledge and experience to help clients achieve their potential. A national speaker and writer, she can be contacted at marashorr@thebestmbs.com.