The State of Year-End Bonuses


For many workers, 2017 will end on an extra jolly note, according to new research from global staffing firm Robert Half.

More than half of 300 senior managers surveyed (51 percent) said they expect year-end bonus levels to be at least somewhat higher than 2016. Just 10 percent of respondents reported bonus amounts will decrease, and 39 percent anticipate no change in bonuses.

When those senior managers were asked, “Do you expect year-end bonus levels to be higher or lower than last year?” they responded:

Much higher


Somewhat higher


No change from last year


Somewhat lower


Much lower





Separate Robert Half research found workers’ performance only partly determines their bonus. In the survey, just 16 percent of HR professionals reported bonuses are based solely on individual work, compared to 27 percent who said amounts are influenced by employee and company results. Another 22 percent said they factor individual, team and company success into bonus decisions.

“Bonuses are a key recruiting and retention tool, especially with the intense competition for top performers,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “If budgets are tight, other ways to recognize exceptional work at the end of the year include gift cards, a department celebration or additional time off for the holidays.”

McDonald added, “To enhance their chances of securing in-demand candidates near year-end, particularly in today’s hiring market, savvy companies are offering job seekers a sign-on bonus to offset a performance bonus they would have received from their existing employer.”

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