Year-end bonuses trend upward


It’s that time of year again: time to check tread on snow tires, indulge in rum cake or eggnog, and time to receive a year-end bonus of cash or gifts — if you’re one of the lucky ones.
Surprisingly, year-end bonuses are up nationwide for 2007, despite economic fluctuations and dire forecasts.
In Colorado Springs, the holidays won’t be as bleak as pundits predicted. For many employees, at the very least, there will be a holiday party to attend.
The Famous, Phantom Canyon, Sonterra Grill and Southside Johnny’s have been as busy with employer-hosted holiday parties as last year, if not more so. Typically, employers host parties for employees and their guests; some employers even host an open bar, although a limited or cash bar is more common, according to Malcolm Davis, assistant general manager at Southside Johnny’s.
Steven D. Berkshire Ph.D., a faculty member at Regis University’s graduate program school of management, said it helps for employees to receive bonuses during the holiday season.
“Some companies give Amex or Visa gift cards, grocery store gift certificates or turkeys,” he said. “People appreciate that. It’s the thought that counts.”
Since Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, the national trend for employers is to provide Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off for employees: 86 percent of manufacturing firms, 58 percent of non-manufacturing firms, and 54 percent of the non-business sector will do so.
A survey of 210 U. S. employers with fewer than 1,000 workers, which is similar to Colorado’s demographic, according to Berkshire, indicated that 32 percent will provide bonuses to management employees, and 28 percent will give bonuses to non-management employees.
Locally, the national trend rings true.
The Pikes Peak Association of Realtors is one of many local companies that gives bonuses at the end of the fiscal year. PPAR employees received a bonus during September, which was about the same dollar amount as last year, said Terry Storm, CEO of the association, and the company holiday party will be held, as usual, in January.
Allegory Marketing’s employee bonuses increased this year, according to owner Tom DeNardin, who also enjoys throwing a party for the families.
“Bonuses are for the individual employees and the work they’ve done for the company,” he said. “The Christmas party is for their families. All the kids get game cards. We shut the office for the afternoon and go play.”
Contemplating a career change? USAA might top your wish list. Each year the board of directors decides whether to award year-end bonuses, based on company performance. For the past 10 years, the answer has been “yes,” according to Vic Andrews, vice president of USAA.
“We’ve had a pretty good year,” he said. “Each employee received two weeks’ salary as a holiday bonus. Our employees take fabulous care of our members, and that’s why we take such good care of them.”
Penrose-St. Francis Health Services employees receive a fiscal, year-end bonus in October if they’ve met various requirements of continuing education, and/or training or performance. During 2007, 87.1 percent of Penrose associates received bonuses.
“Bonuses make people feel appreciated and good about where they work — that’s ultimately what bonuses are all about,” said Amy Sufak, Penrose’s director of community relations.
During the holidays, Penrose employees receive free meals at work, gift certificates to local restaurants to take their families for holiday meals, and raffles are held for DVDs, digital cameras and home theaters with surround sound. Some employers offer bonuses that encourage community and family involvement.
Being a faith-based hospital, Penrose gives employees time off to attend religious services.
Agilent Technology spokeswoman Kelly Parthen said that all employees in Colorado receive their choice of one Colorado recreation gift: annual ski passes for the family, Colorado Rockies, Pikes Peak Center or World Arena season tickets, etc.
“We started this program to emphasize we value the work-life balance of our employees,” she said. “It’s fun to attend these events, and it connects us with the community.”
Although the trend is up for bonuses this year, don’t take your holiday ham to the bank — next year might not be so rosy.
“The downside is that once employers start giving holiday bonuses, it’s hard to stop,” Berkshire said. “There is a negative impact on morale if employers stop giving holiday bonuses.”