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Have you got the bonus blues?

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Traditionally, most annual bonuses are paid this month or last, and while many employees will be very happy and their bonus will serve as an excellent retention tool, others will be disappointed, their bank balance not reflecting their expectations. The vast majority of bonuses are not guaranteed – occasionally a first-year bonus might be agreed in advance to account for a sum a new employee has left on the table at their previous job – and as such the bonus season can be a stressful time because of this uncertainty. If you didn’t get the bonus you were expecting or feel you deserved, we have some advice on how to handle the situation.

  • Discuss it with your manager

This may sound obvious and you may have already had what your employer considers to be the ‘bonus chat’ when you were told your number, but you are entitled to reflect on your award and raise the subject again. Get a time in their diary and make a plan to discuss why you received the amount you did. Remember to stay calm and focus on the business reasons, do not make it personal or confrontational in any way.

  • Reflect on the reasons

Maybe the number you were hoping for wasn’t realistic, or perhaps there were targets that you didn’t ultimately meet. Were bonuses lower across the board in either your sector or your company? Try to take on board your employer’s reasoning before you make any hasty decisions. If you think that they did in fact pay you fairly, then there is the opportunity to use the information you have learned to ensure that next year you are paid the maximum possible, now that you know the criteria. Bonuses are by their nature usually discretionary, so understanding what is required and keeping things in perspective is vital.

  • Dust down the CV

If after a period of reflection, you decide that the bonus payment was the final straw, then you might consider leaving. Do not burn bridges at this point and march out of the door, instead do the right thing for your career. Update your CV and have a look at the market in your sector. Remember, the market is busier than usual at this time of year – your competition is not just others who are leaving after a disappointing bonus, but also those who have been waiting to be paid before they move on. Do your research and get to know the value of your job and your worth as an employee, so that your job quest can begin in earnest.

  • Resign at the right time

Never quit until you have a formal offer for another position and when you do have that in hand, then resign to the appropriate person in the correct manner. Again, this isn’t personal, so to avoid an acrimonious situation, write a resignation letter that resembles a thank you letter. Negotiate your notice period if that is an option and make any succession handover as seamless as possible to reflect well on you as you exit.

  • Resist the counter offer

We’ve discussed this one before in a previous blog, but resigning after bonus season is a prime time for counter offers from employers who are keen to hold on to talent, so do take a moment to read that article next! 

If you would like to discuss your next career move, don’t hesitate to contact us today.