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Bonus cuts: 68% of employees threaten to quit

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Over two thirds of UK professionals (68%) have stated that they will ‘seriously contemplate’ leaving their current job if their employer implements bonus cuts and they miss out on a year-end bonus this January.

The findings come from international specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters annual Salary Survey, which also found that in spite of employee anticipation for bonuses being high,  only  52% of companies have allocated budgets for year-end bonuses. A further 34% of employers decided to skip bonuses altogether in their early 2024 financial plans.

Employee expectations

The importance of year-end bonuses in talent retention is evident, confirmed by a strong 75% of companies who see them as crucial for retaining their best employees. In fact, 59% of professionals are expecting a bonus between 10-30% of their pay at the end of this month.

However, despite bonuses being a standard expectation in most professional compensation packages, two-fifths of employees have resigned themselves to not expecting a bonus for their hard work in 2023.

These findings follow the specialist recruitment consultancy’s Salary Survey – which tracks remuneration predictions for the coming year, as well as surveying 4,000 white collar professionals and 2,000 employers to identify upcoming workplace trends.

Chris Eldridge, CEO of Robert Walters UK, comments on bonus cuts:

“It is still a talent short market, so attracting and retaining the best people is without a doubt a challenge we will continue to see in the new year.

“A year-end bonus remains a crucial retention tool, influencing almost 4 in 5 employees’ career plans. It serves as recognition and reward for employees dedication and contributions, showcasing a sense of appreciation. It also helps with motivation for the following year – when people feel appreciated, they are more committed to continuing the hard work to reap the benefits in the years to come.

“Understandably many companies have had to reduce costs in what has been a turbulent economy, however companies should take an important note that it costs around 6-9 months of an employee’s salary to replace them when they are gone. So, when you put it like that – a bonus is a much smaller cost than said employee leaving.”

Additional employee priorities

The survey unveiled additional employee priorities beyond bonuses. Whilst flexible work arrangements top the list as a priority for 36% of respondents, it was closely followed by:

  • Competitive salary (27%)
  • Positive work-life balance (23%)
  • Good development opportunities (14%)

Chris adds: “2023 was a tricky year to navigate for many organizations, with costs being heavily monitored. A holistic approach to employee strategies, incorporating more than just monetary benefits, is vital in securing and nurturing a strong workforce.

“81% of professionals have reported that they will be looking at job alternatives in the new year, so it’s vital to ensure you’re doing what you can to maintain an attractive and competitive employee offering.”