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Holiday bonuses making a comeback

More employers plan to reward workers with gifts, bonuses and parties. But some are more generous than others.

By Karen Datko Dec 9, 2010 9:15PM

All 12,400 employees of Ikea US got a bicycle from their employer as a holiday gift this year.


Meanwhile, Googlers (that's what employees of Google are called) are getting a $1,000 Christmas bonus -- and that's after the notably generous employer picks up the taxes on the gift. (Other employers take note: Googlers are getting a pay raise of at least 10% next year too.)


What's in store for the rest of us -- at least those of us who are on a company payroll? Employers are expected to be more generous this holiday season than last, according to a survey by CareerBuilder. Post continues after video.

Here are some of the results:

  • 33% of employers plan to give holiday bonuses, up from 29% last year.
  • 59% of those employers are giving the same amount  they've handed out in holidays past.
  • 29% (26% last year) are giving gifts to employees, and 65% are planning to spend about the same as they did before.
  • 25% of workers are giving gifts to their fellow employees, 22% are giving a gift to the boss, and 86% of these thoughtful folks are spending $25 or less per office gift.

"Many employers are financially in a better place this season and recognize the positive impact holiday perks can have on office morale," Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, said in a press release. (Yes!)


The survey also identified some of the stranger gifts people have received at work, including a 20-pack of toilet paper, a statue of Dracula, and a bra (inappropriate for work, and how would the giver know if it fits?).


As the survey indicates, some bosses are more generous than others. The most generous of all seems to be Clive Palmer, a mining company owner now affectionately known as "St. Nickel." The Wall Street Journal's The Wealth Report blog reports:

The Australian mining magnate gave 50 Mercedes-Benz B-Class 180s sedans to his most-valued employees as a Christmas bonus. He also gave all 750 of his longtime workers a holiday trip to Fiji. That isn't all -- he also threw in a $2 million holiday party.

One of the luxury car recipients is a 30-plus-year employee of Palmer's nickel refinery who earns about $40,000 a year.

Some WSJ readers wondered if the employees will owe tax on the cars. We're not familiar with Australian law but in the U.S. such workplace holiday largesse would be taxable.


Holiday gifts of nominal value from an employer -- like a turkey or T-shirt -- aren't considered income by the IRS, but cash, gift cards, gift certificates and pricier gifts (costing more than $100) are. So the turkey is tax-free, but the Mercedes-Benz is not.


Is your company giving you a holiday gift or bonus this year? What's the strangest gift you've ever received at work?


More from MSN Money:

Dec 10, 2010 12:27PM
Got an unexpected bonus yesterday of about $800.  Putting most of it on bills but $200 is going toward a wii.  We are extremely frugal and I work very hard despite being in chronic pain.  I refuse to feel guilty about buying a long wished for toy.
Dec 13, 2010 2:03AM
A bicycle?  Woohoo!  Just in time to stare at it for three months wishing it wasn't freezing in most of the country!  Good going, IKEA.
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