December 3, 2009, Markham, Ont. – Canadian small business owners are sacrificing their paycheques and bonuses this year so they can spread some holiday cheer to their employees, according to a new American Express survey.
More than half of Canadian small business owners said they will make some sort of sacrifice in order to recognize employees and clients this year, whether it be not taking a raise (25 per cent) or a bonus (23 per cent), or even taking a pay cut (16 per cent). Even with these sacrifices though, employers are being forced to cut back on their recognition of employees and clients this year.
Fewer small business owners will be giving their employees bonuses this holiday season (32 per cent this year versus 44 per cent last year). They are also less likely to make charitable donations, give employee gifts and give client gifts.
But small business owners recognize the importance of showing their appreciation to employees and clients, and are finding less expensive ways to do so. About half are still planning to treat their employees to a party or dinner this holiday season – the same proportion as last year. Another lower cost way to recognize employees is by giving them extra time off. This year, 43 per cent are planning to give employees extra time off over the holidays, up from 39 per cent last year.
"Small business owners know that their employees are key to their company's success," said Howard Grosfield, vice president, small business services, American Express Canada and International. "They are willing to make sacrifices to ensure their employees feel valued and appreciated. We've monitored that trend throughout the recession and owners consistently put the needs of their staff and business first."
But while small business owners attempt to shield their workers from the effects of the year-end slowdown, the reality of the recession has made cost savings a priority. In response, about three quarters of respondents have introduced some form of cost reduction policies in the last year for themselves and/or employees.
That includes 48 per cent who have instituted longer working hours, 47 per cent instituting pay freezes, and 45 per cent reducing spending allowances.
One change that employees have been asked to endure where owners are exempt is shorter working hours. For those firms that reduced working hours, 59 per cent of the cuts were to employee hours only, with owners extending their own hours to pick up any slack.
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