Holiday Gifts and Bonuses Remain The Exception

Provided by BNA

As in years past, workers should not count on extravagant holiday gifts or bonuses from their employers. Only a minority of organizations surveyed by BNA, Inc. (38 percent) plan to distribute food, merchandise, or money to employees during the 2002-2003 holiday season, unchanged from a year ago and down just a bit from 2000 (41 percent). Moreover, only a handful of companies will lavish expensive merchandise or large bonuses on their workers.

The BNA survey finds that:

  • A sluggish economy has had no more than marginal impact on holiday bonuses, perhaps because those cash awards rarely amount to more than a few hundred dollars. About one out of five employers (21 percent) plans to put a little extra in workers' paychecks around the holidays, up slightly from a year ago (18 percent) to the same level recorded for 2000. Although respondents' written comments regarding bonuses centered mostly on a down economy, median estimated cash awards for managers ($300) and nonmanagement staff ($137.50) are not dramatically different than those reported over the past several years.

  • Year-end gifts will be about as prevalent as holiday bonuses. Just over one-fifth of the surveyed establishments (21 percent) will provide turkeys, hams, gift certificates, or merchandise to some or all of their employees in 2002, little changed from last year (23 percent). Holiday gifts to the workforce tend to be modest, with a median projected outlay of $25 per item for both managerial and nonmanagement employees.

  • Turkeys, hams, and grocery certificates again will be the prevailing gifts to employees. Of the responding organizations that will offer tokens of appreciation to workers, 15 percent will distribute turkeys, 8 percent plan to hand out holiday hams, and 10 percent will offer a choice of a turkey or ham. Another 12 percent will provide gift certificates redeemable for groceries.

  • Extravagant gifts from business associates typically must be returned. Gifts of ''nominal'' value are permissible at about four out of 10 establishments (43 percent), while less than half as many (17 percent) require workers to refuse all food or merchandise from clients or customers. Sixteen percent impose specific monetary limits-usually $25 or $50-on gifts from business contacts.
    (Further details and breakdowns by industry, size, and union status are contained in the full report.)

BNA's survey of year-end holiday practices was conducted from mid-September to mid-October 2002. The report is based on responses from 392 human resource and employee relations executives representing a cross section of U.S. employers, both public and private.

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