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The secret to justifying a large bonus

Published on Friday, 24 Jun 2011
Photo: Bloomberg

Any justification for a bonus should be grounded in your value as an employee, writes Emma Charnock, regional director of recruiting experts Hays

Employers have reported an intention to pay bonuses to more than half of their employees this year, while almost half of employers in Hong Kong intend to pay more than 15 per cent of the salary as a bonus, according to the 2011 Hays Salary Guide.

While an organisation’s performance determines whether or not bonuses will be awarded, as well as the bonus budget, it is your own performance and value that will determine the extent of your share of this bonus pool. This is to ensure the bonus reflects your work and ultimately the return on investment to the company from what it has vested in your employment.

Therefore, your value needs to be maintained throughout the year in order to justify a big bonus. It is rarely guaranteed, and the larger bonuses are not given for one-off wins but rather for consistently high results.

When preparing your case for a big bonus, your first step is to examine your achievements against the performance level generally required in your organisation to reach the minimum bonus level. As you would when negotiating a salary increase, objectively review your successes over the past year, and make a list of your top achievements. Focus on the areas where you have consistently added value to the organisation over the course of the year. Note that if you haven’t delivered more services or produced more for the company than you’ve cost, your bonus hopes are likely to be disappointing. 

Then research current bonus payments by reviewing salary guides or speaking to a recruiter. Be realistic, not greedy, in your expectations. Determine the minimum you are prepared to accept.

Deliver your bonus request positively and professionally, not with an adversarial attitude, and demonstrate with tangible examples exactly how you have delivered value to the firm which is beyond your job description.  Some employees also present their plans for the coming year and show how they intend to continue their outstanding performance in order to give their employer a reason to want to continue to motivate and retain them. 

Provided your results are impressive, your manager will value you and want to use a bonus to reward your efforts, boost morale and retain your skills. The more your skills are valued, the higher your bonus potential, so keep striving for the top results.

Article contributed by Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people

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