More workers getting year-end bonuses in 2012

Whether the gifts are hard cash or merely symbolic, more companies are rewarding their employees this holiday season.

By Bruce Kennedy Dec 21, 2012 2:59PM

Image: Woman counting money (Jose Luis Pelaez, Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images)Here's another sign that perhaps the economy is on the mend: Nearly three out of every four U.S. employers say they plan to hand workers some sort of year-end bonus this holiday season.

A new survey of human resources executives by the international outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that 72% of employers are expected to offer a year-end bonus for 2012, compared to 53% a year ago. 

According to the survey, 28% of employers will give out bonus checks this year based on their company's annual performance. Another 17% say their firms will award bonuses only to select employees based on individual performance.

About 21% of the executives polled report that their companies will not distribute bonuses this year. But that number is a marked improvement from 2011, when 43% of those polled said no to bonuses.

"Many companies enjoyed increased profits this year, along with increased productivity," said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger in a press statement.


"The fact that they achieved that without a rapid acceleration in hiring or capital investment means that existing employees were asked to deliver better results with fewer resources," he continued.

"Even with many companies still not enjoying pre-recession business levels, it is clear, at least among our small sampling of employers, that they are duly recognizing the hard work and achievements of their workforce."


In the case of some companies, the year-end bonus may seem more symbolic than substantive. The survey says 14% of executives polled expect to award "nominal" bonuses of $100 or less -- and 13% will hand out a non-monetary gift "as a sign of appreciation."

But still, 25% of employers are planning to increase the size of this season's year-end bonus -- compared to less than 17% a year ago. And the number of companies saying their 2012 bonuses would be less this year fell to 6.2%, versus 8.2% in 2011.

"Most employers understand that workers want to be recognized for their contribution to the company," said Challenger. "It doesn't have to be a Wall Street-sized bonus check. Many workers would be happy with a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant or store. Many would probably be happy with an extra day or two of paid vacation at the end of the year. Many are simply happy to have a job in this economy."


And of course, there's the question of what to do with that bonus, once you receive it.

Some people might consider the example offered by employees at Energy Partners Propane in Montana. According to KGVO Radio in Missoula, the company's 40 employees decided to donate their Christmas bonuses -- a total of $5,000 -- to the Montana Food Bank Network. A food bank official says her organization can provide seven meals for every dollar donated -- which figures out to an additional 35,000 meals for hungry Montana families.

More from Money Now

Dec 26, 2012 10:54AM
Our complete sales staff, except for me, left to start their own business in January of this year. I stuck with the company and took care of all customers nationwide until we could eventually hire a few people mid year. This meant flying all over the country to play damage control after the previous sales reps lied to our customers before leaving.
Even after we hired additional staff, I still kept some of the other accounts because the customers were pleased with my support. I'm still flying everywhere to take care of more customers than a sales rep should.
I got a $25 gift card for a bonus....
Guess it's time to start job hunting...

Dec 24, 2012 9:26AM

T'was the morn before Christmas and all through the house,

all the Wal-Mart employees were stirring, to go to work of course.

The Chinese made clothing was being donned with a grumble,

All made on a steel rail not a body form, they grumbled.

The shoelaces all snapped, made in Viet Nam out of worm spit,

All the buttons cracked in half, made from recycled toxic plastic.

They piled in one car, it's the best you can manage,

When the inheritors who own you won't pay you a living wage.

Bonuses? What a crock they all say, it's eight bucks an hour,

Except for Waltons, who hoard billions of our dollars.


Way to go FOXY AZ. Blond... for doing the right thing! Merry Christmas to you and your respectful employees!


Dec 22, 2012 2:09PM
We are waiting for ours, after first of year......Thanks Barry.
Dec 21, 2012 7:38PM

Most will get no bonus, and to make matters worse we’ll be starting the year with a pay cut as our health insurance premiums are soaring (15% where I work).


Those few  who do get raises will find that their increased pay does not even cover the increase in the cost of their benefits, so many will have lower take home pay in 2013 than they do this year.

Dec 21, 2012 4:13PM

I gave all 75 of my employees a $1000 bonus.Respect works both ways.Next

year, God willing,I`ll write out more and bigger checks.

Dec 21, 2012 3:59PM
I know I got my 42.oo dollar US bonus.
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