Survey: Bonuses Differ Significantly by Region

November 16, 2004 ( - Christmas bonuses will be more prevalent in the Northeast this year, while the West will see the lowest level of such extra payments.

Geography seems to play a large role in bonus allocation, according to the 2004 Small Business Monitor by OPEN for American Express. While in the Northeast 58% of small firms expect to give bonuses, the numbers shrink the farther West one goes, with the South (56%), the North Central (46%), and the West (40%) all giving smaller bonuses than their Eastern counterparts. Overall, 51% of small firms plan to give employees bonuses.

Geography also relates to the number of raises being given this Christmas season, although not in the same way as was seen with bonuses. Overall, 26% of employers plan to give raises, with those in the North Central district most likely to do so with 29% reporting that they will. The Northeast (27%), the South (25%), and the West (22%) all follow.

Overall, however, forms of Christmas celebration are up at small business this year, with 82% of firms planning to celebrate, up from 78% last year. Fifty-three percent say they plan to celebrate with a holiday party, while 47% plan to give employees time off.

Small business owners also plan to reward customers and clients more this holiday season. Sixty-nine percent reported that they plan to buy gifts, compared to 57% last year. Their budget, however, has shrunk somewhat, with $923 being allocated on average for such expenses this year, down from $966 last year. Cards or calendars are the overwhelming choice (41%), followed by gift certificates (24%), food baskets (20%), and flowers or plants (9%).

Volunteerism is also a common theme, although women business owners are much more likely to organize a group volunteer effort than men. Twenty-nine percent of women claim they will organize such an effort, while only 14% of men say they will do so.

The OPEN Small Business Network Monitor is based on a sample of 773 small business owners/managers of fewer than 100 employees.