Employees Bonus Expectations High In 2011, Cash Is King

Employees are sending a clear message this holiday season: they expect a bonus and they want it to be cold, hard cash. And forget the holiday party, even with an open bar.

A new survey by Harris Interactive® finds that the majority of employees say they would prefer a cash bonus this year (72 percent), followed by a salary raise (62 percent) and additional paid time off (32 percent).

Expectations for receiving a bonus are high this year: of those employed and eligible for a bonus, a full 58% say they expect an end of year windfall, and 20 percent expect it to be more than their last bonus, while 13 percent expect it to be less, and 22 percent are unsure. However, the check amount may not be quite as much as employees hope – Johnson Associates is reporting Wall Street bonuses may be down 20 – 30 percent over last year.

What Other Perks Make Employees Happy?

Employers who can't afford a big handout need not worry – employees note that perks such as an extra day off or even a grocery gift card would be preferred. Save the chardonnay and shrimp cocktail, though - traditional holiday parties rate low this year, as a mere 4 percent of employees prefer this "perk."

Male and Female Expectations

There are some stark differences in how male and female employees want to be recognized and rewarded at the end of the year – employers, take note!

Holiday Perks: More men (16%) said they would be interested in receiving company stock or shares as a holiday perk than women (6%), whereas more women (18%) said they would prefer the option to work from home for a year than men (11%). More women (29%) also prefer grocery gift cards over their male counterparts (18%).

Bonus Expectations: More men (74%) report being eligible for bonuses than women (69%). Among employees who are eligible to receive a bonus this year, nearly twice as many women (17%) report they are unsure of the bonus amount than men (7%) whereas more men (30%) than women (22%) expect their bonus to be the same as last year.

What's going on at your company? Do you expect a bonus this year? Would you prefer other perks, like paid time off or a holiday party? Tell us what your job is like by sharing a company review and see what your peers are saying, too.

Survey Methodology
  1. For the purposes of this study "employees" were defined as U.S. adults 18+ employed full time and/or part time unless otherwise indicated.

  2. This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Glassdoor from November 3-7, 2011 among 2,574 adults ages 18 and older of whom 1,495 are employed full time, part time and/or are self employed. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact pr[at]glassdoor.com.

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