How Feeling-the-Pinch Stole Christmas

December 4, 2001 ( - In the face of an economic slowdown, 69% of companies are not offering holiday bonuses this year compared to 64% last year, a new survey by Hewitt Associates finds.

The group’s 2001 Holiday Bonus and Gift Study shows that:

· almost 60% of companies have never had a holiday bonus program,
· one in 10 had a program, which was discontinued, and
· only 1% are considering a holiday bonus program.

Cutting Bonuses

Of those companies that canceled their holiday bonus initiatives,

· close to15% did so in the 1980s,
· half pulled the plug in the 1990s,
· a little over a third discontinued their programs in 2000 or 2001, and
· the remaining 3% cancelled their programs before 1975.

Of those who have never given employees a holiday bonus, 43% choose not to due to cost, while 32% choose not to because this type of program is not consistent with their reward philosophy.

Cash is King

Of the companies that do have a holiday bonus program,

· over a third provide a cash bonus,
· some 27% give a gift certificate to a local retailer, and
· one in five reward employees with a gift of food.

Of all 421 companies surveyed, 67% host a holiday party.

The study also found that 60% of companies providing holiday bonuses budgeted less than 1% of payroll expenses for these awards.

On average, companies spend:

· $634 dollars per employee on cash awards,
· $69 per worker on gift certificates, and
· $33 per employee on food gifts.