Christmas bonuses more likely to shrink than grow

Executives in charge of the pursestrings at Canadian companies say they don't expect year-end bonuses to change much for 2013, but the ones that do are more likely to get smaller rather than bigger.

According to a survey released Tuesday by staffing firm Robert Half, 62 per cent of Canadian chief financial officers surveyed by the firm said they don't foresee any changes to the amount of money they'll pay out in employee bonuses this holiday season.

Among those that say they expect a change in the amount, 12 per cent expect bonuses won't be as high. That contrasts with eight per cent who say they expect their bonus payouts to increase.

The companies surveyed came from a random cross-section of Canadian industries, but Robert Half said the results did show a few broader trends.

Manufacturing was the sector with the gloomiest outlook, with a full 33 per cent of respondents expecting smaller bonuses this year.

Workers in the wholesaling and transportation industry, however, are more likely to see larger bonuses, as 17 and 14 per cent of the CFOs in those industries, respectively, anticipate bigger bonus payouts to staff.

"Year-end bonuses can show employees that their hard work throughout the year is valued and that they are appreciated by the organization," said Greg Scileppi, a spokesman for Robert Half.

"Monetary bonuses, though, are not the only way firms can reward their teams. For firms who are not planning on awarding bonuses, or are looking to scale back from last year, non-monetary perks like training opportunities, staff celebrations or additional vacation time can be an effective way to acknowledge and reward teams."

The Canadian results don't follow the same trend as those n the company's U.S. version of the poll, however — about the same (63 per cent) said they expected no change, but those expecting bigger bonuses outnumber those expecting smaller ones by a ratio of more than 2 to 1 — 17 per cent to seven per cent.