Paul Downs Vintage Blog – “Should I Give My Employees a Bonus — or Buy a Sander?”

Thanks again to all who took time to comment on my three problems. Last week, I further addressed the issue of whether I should toss my aging servers and move my data to the cloud and the issue of whether I should buy a building or continue renting. And now, finally, the employee bonus versus investing in the company question.

What I asked: Should I spend $20,000 investing in new machinery or rewarding my workers with an unexpected bonus?

Consensus advice: Buy the machine — but if I want to reward the workers, do it with a gift of some sort instead of with cash.

My thoughts: I agree that the sensible thing to do is to buy the machine: It’s a great deal and will lead to enhanced productivity and future profits. I can’t explain why I felt I should give out a bonus.

The desire to shower riches on my people is an impulse that I have consistently felt in all of my years as a boss. Is this some defect peculiar to me, or is it behavior left over from prehistory, when tribal chiefs were expected to spread the wealth around? Whichever, I know it is a dangerous proclivity. So I’m glad I asked the question, because my readers were unanimous (has that ever happened before?). I received a wide variety of suggestions for modest thank-you gifts that would communicate my gratitude at a much lower cost than $20,000. Good advice!

There seemed to be some disagreement as to whether a surprise bonus should be cash or some kind of gift. I know which I’d want: cash. Personally, I hate shopping for gifts, so maybe that’s why I prefer to get and give money…READ MORE


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