Companies Playing Holiday Scrooge

November 19, 2002 ( - Sixty-seven percent of companies surveyed said they would not be offering any type of holiday bonus this year, according to Hewitt Associates' 2002 Holiday Bonus and Gift Study.

Of the 67%, 51% never had a holiday bonus program and 16% had a program that has been discontinued.  

When asked the reasons for discontinuation, 59% reported cost, 34% entitlement issues and 24% said development of pay-for-performance plans.  

Hewitt also found holiday bonus programs were discontinued during the following periods:  

  • Before 1980 – 7%
  • In the 1980’s – 9%
  • In the 1990’s – 47%
  • Between 2000 and 2002 – 37%

The companies that never had a holiday bonus plan report the major issues to implementing one were cost (47%), never considering such a program (40%), and inconsistency with the current reward policy (38%).  

Good “Tithing”

The 33% of companies that offer holiday bonuses do so with cash (39%), gift certificates (36%) and gifts of food (28%).   The cost per employee for these holiday bonuses averages $200 for cash bonus, $25 for gift certificates, and $20 for food gifts.  Some companies offered a combination of holiday bonuses.

Sixty-two percent of companies with holiday bonus budget less than 1% of payroll expenses and 19% of companies target between 1% and 2% of payroll expenses.  

The study also found that 64% of the 432 companies surveyed would host a holiday party this year.

Hewitt says this year’s numbers are consistent with previous results.  Since 1999, the number of companies not offering a holiday bonus has ranged from 64% to 69%.