in , ,

Business Owner Considers Not Giving His Employees A Holiday Bonus Due To His Personal Debt Issues

dpVUE.images/Getty Images

2020 has been a hard year for all of us. Many of us have had to make sacrifices.

Unfortunately, this has included letting go of employees, decreasing their pay, or in one business owner’s case, surprising them by taking away their holiday bonuses.

On the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, the small business owner explained that, while his team performed well this year, he’s considering not giving them bonuses this year.

Redditor nobonusguythrow admitted this was for personal reasons, including the hefty costs that went into filing his divorce.

The Original Poster (OP) wondered if this idea made him the bad guy: 

“AITA for not giving my employees a holiday bonus this year?”

The OP was happy to report his business did well this year. 

“I own and operate my own small business. I currently have 10 employees working for me and in the past, I have given everyone a holiday bonus at the end of the year.”

“Even with everything that has gone on in the past year, my business has done very well and we are on pace to have an increased profit of almost 10% compared to last year. I have asked a lot of my employees this year, and they have met or exceeded all of my expectations. I am incredibly proud of the work they have done.”

Unfortunately, the OP himself wasn’t quite so lucky. 

“However, even though my business has done well, I have incurred a lot of personal expenses and debt this year that I had not planned for.”

“I had some health problems and also went through an emotionally, mentally, and financially exhaustive divorce.”

The OP thought he came up with a logical solution. 

“So even with the increased profit from my company, I will be taking in less money than I did last year, whether or not I give out bonuses.”

“I recently had a meeting with my #2 at my company and explained this to him. I told him that I would not be able to give out bonuses this year and told him it would probably be better if he told everyone since he has a better relationship with the employees and sees them all day-to-day.”

The OP’s second-in-command did not feel the same way. 

“He said he understands where I’m coming from but he refused to be the one to give them the news. He said that it’s my company and I’m free to treat my employees however I want, but he will not be turned into the bad guy because of a decision I am making on my own.”

“He said that many of the employees know that the company is on a better pace than last year, so it’s not unreasonable of them to expect the same bonus or even a better one than before.”

“I told him I have to look out for myself as well and I’ve had a tough year.”

“He said it was unfair of me to punish my employees for my personal problems. He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if this caused a permanent rift between me and the employees and that some will probably look elsewhere for work as a result.”

“I want to believe that my employees will be understanding of the situation and will continue to be loyal based on our past working history and not the short-term.”

His ex-wife also did not like the plan. 

“In the past, I would use my wife as a barometer for this kind of decision, but when I reached out to her to get her opinion, she called me a greedy a**hole who can’t see beyond his own problems.”

“I will admit, there is a fair amount of acrimony between the two of us right now, so I feel that probably played into what she said and I don’t think she sees this the same way she would have before the divorce.”

Now the OP has quite the decision to make. 

“I need to make a final decision on this quickly and I’m leaning towards not giving out bonuses like my gut tells me to, but would that make me an a**hole?”

Fellow Redditors voted to rate the business owner’s idea on the following scale:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some could not believe the OP was even considering putting himself before his employees.

“YTA. The cost of replacing your employees, who will doubtless look elsewhere if you do this, will likely be much higher than the cost of their bonuses.”WalksLikeAFrog

“This. You’re totally the a**hole. Sorry you’ve had a lot of personal problems this year but in case you haven’t noticed … it’s 2020 — the year of the fricking devil.”

“I doubt you have a single employee that hasn’t also had difficulties this year, whether it be health problems, family members getting laid off, mental health going to crap, paying for children to go remote learning, loved ones dying, etc…”

“The fact that you want to use the extra money to deal with your own problems instead of giving it to your employees, especially around THE HOLIDAYS, in the unprecedented bitch of a year that’s kicking everyone’s a** that is 2020, sort of sickens me and makes me lose faith in humanity.”

“If you do this, I’d urge all of your employees to leave forever and cheer them on as they did so.”

“You talk of them being loyal to you and the company? Based off the fact that you don’t have their backs at all I don’t see why they should.”FeAuWoman

“Plus even his ‘acrimonious’ ex-wife is telling him he’s being a greedy a**hole.”

“The ex who could easily just sit back, shut up, and watch him torpedo his business into the ground for her own amusement if she really wanted to be acrimonious, is telling him to quit being a greedy a**hole and do the right thing for his employees.”calliatom

“So let me get this straight…because of your personal financial difficulties, you want every single employee at your company to go without the bonus they traditionally receive each year, even though by your own admission their work this year has been wonderful and the company itself is doing even better financially than it was last year?”

“Yeah…YTA. Not to mention that it’s 2020 and everyone at your company has probably had more difficulties now than in past years.”theoptimisticotter

Others agreed and were upset he had waited so long to decide, and during the holidays.

“And he’s TA for waiting so long to decide. If he doesn’t go through with bonuses (and he really should!) his employees probably made plans or already purchased holiday gifts thinking the bonus will cover it at the end of the month.”ineedanewname2

“Also consider what if your employees I have had financial difficulties from covid this year and now are depending on this bonus to get their children or loved ones a present for the holidays”paulwentz

A few agreed with the OP’s #2-in-command that the employees would look for work elsewhere. 

“I’m telling you right now, if I knew my company did well and my boss axed my holiday bonus, I would immediately start looking elsewhere for a new job.”

“What’s to stop you from f**king with bonuses next year if your personal life doesn’t miraculously improve? I have no loyalty to a boss and company that has no loyalty to me.”

“You aren’t the only one who f**king has problems. It’s 2020. Some people are relying on that holiday bonus just to get by.”

“Just so you know, your wife is 1000% right about you. Only a greedy a**hole who can’t see beyond his own problems would punish his hardworking employees for his personal problems.”sunny394

“Same here. Bonuses are to reward good work (which the employees did), not cover the boss’s a** in a divorce.”

“I’d ‘be understanding’, but not of the facts OP wanted me to. I’d understand that a) he’s disrespectful and a bit cowardly for trying to pawn the duty of giving the bad news off to a subordinate and b) he doesn’t care about his employees.”

“It’s hard to switch jobs at the moment, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the damage hasn’t already been done even if he caves and gives the bonuses out.”

“YTA OP, and if I were you I’d start taking applications for a wave of new hires immediately.”PuppyPortal

Not to mention the OP’s idea to have his #2 handle it.

“Wow the audacity to not even do the dirty work himself.”

“Reminds me when dozens, maybe a hundred of us at work were laid off where the president flew across the country to tell us… but he did it over the phone/ loudspeaker while he was down the hall from our conference room.”thxmeatcat

“Let’s not forget cowardly. He was too cowardly and selfish to even tell the employees he’s not giving them their well-deserved bonuses, he’s trying to make someone else do it.”

“I’m sure he is the first person to go boast to them when there is good news and now he’s trying to force someone else to do his dirty work because ‘but my personal life…'”

“Seriously,… in 2020? His employees have continued working for him through this stupid pandemic and he’s acting like he’s the only one who’s suffered or gone through anything this year?”scarletnightingale

“What’s worse is that he doesn’t even have the balls to tell them himself. He wants his number 2 to tell everyone the news. If you’re going to be a greedy a**hole, at least own it.”Hanan89

“That was what pushed it over the edge for me. Not over the edge into YTA territory; he was already deep in the rectum. It just made it sound unbelievable.”

“No one with a successful business that they built themselves could be that out of touch… could they?”funklab

Quite frankly, the responses probably were not what the employer was hoping for.

It sounds like he’s had a bit of a rough year, but that also sounds like the rest of us.

The subReddit seemed to be on the same page about taking care of his employees and preserving their loyalty at the same time. Not to mention, it is the holiday season, after all.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.