Sixty-three percent of
U.S. companies did not award holiday bonuses to their employees in
2007, according to a survey of 350 firms conducted by Hewitt
Associates, the Lincolnshire, Ill.-based human resources firm.
More than half (53 percent) of the
respondents reported their firms had not previously offered holiday
bonuses, while 10 percent said their bonus programs were
discontinued. Of those that canceled their bonus initiatives, 53
percent did so between 2000 and 2007.
Why the downward trend? Half the firms
surveyed cited cost as the reason for cutting out bonuses. Another
16 percent blamed the difficulty of administering the programs.
Insurance companies were the biggest
givers of bonuses (61 percent), followed by health-care (50
percent), manufacturing (39 percent), retail (37 percent),
financial services (16 percent) and pharmaceutical (8 percent).
Forty-two percent of firms that gave
bonuses rewarded their staff with gift cards (valued at an average
of $52, up from the average of $37 the year before), 41 percent
gave cash (averaging $842, up five dollars from 2006), 25 percent
gave food-related gifts and 20 percent let employees choose their
gifts from catalogs.
Sixty-nine percent used holiday bonuses
as a way to says thanks or show appreciation; 11 percent gave them
“to maintain tradition” and 16 percent to boost morale. More than
two-thirds of companies who offer holiday bonuses said that all
employee groups were eligible, while 17 percent said only full-time
employees received them.
While many firms held back or gave
modest year-end rewards, some were much more generous. Among them:
Newark, N.J.-based Feury Image Group. The entire staff celebrated
the company’s successful run in 2007 -- business grew by 30
percent -- with a five-day Caribbean cruise.