Bonus payout continues amid financial woes

13:28, December 07, 2009      

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With Christmas spending just around the corner and memories of frozen annual bonuses lingering from last year, many companies in Beijing are calming employee concerns with news they will come through with cash regardless of economic woes.

"Though some companies said they won't pay out a bonus in 2009, the majority said they would pay no matter what the impact on the business was," said Tommy Li, a senior consultant at Mercer, one of the largest international HR consulting firms operating in China.

Li, who was the product manager for the China Monitor Report, a quarterly survey containing the most updated HR trends in China, said most companies froze or postponed yearly bonuses in 2008 due to the dire global financial situation.

The China Monitor Report, which surveyed over 290 companies, found that more than 69 percent confirmed they would pay yearly bonuses this year despite the global financial crisis. Only 4 percent of companies said they would not.

In addition to the return of year-end bonuses, the China Monitor index found that jobs are on the rise. In the fourth quarter of 2009, over 78 percent of business said they had plans to hire new employees and less than 10 percent said they would downsize.

One sales director of a Beijing-based metals business said that he fears his company will lose employees in the reviving employment market. With the exception of last year, he said he has noticed a trend of employees leaving his company after receiving their yearly bonuses.

"There's a joke in my office about it. Every year, out of the 15 people that report to me, I lose anywhere from three to five," he told METRO, requesting that he not be named.

He said employees feel less incentive to stick around after receiving the year-end payout.

Though the company gave out bonuses last year, much to his surprise, he said his salary had been frozen. "This year, with companies starting to hire again, I expect to see a lot of movement. Most people stayed at their jobs last year, grateful just to have a paycheck, but with confidence restored and hiring resuming, I think this year will be different," he said.

The Accor hotel group on the other hand is taking a different approach to distributing end of the year bonuses.

"The bonuses of our salaried employees engaged in the corporate office are assessed against several criteria - including the performance of the company," said Robert Murray, Senior Vice President of Greater China for the ACCOR Hotel group.

Murray, who has been working with Accor, a foreign public company listed in France, for more than five years has seen shifts in the market. He said Accor's system allows employees to share in both the good times and the more "challenging times", such as the 2009 economic crisis.

"Although it is yet to be determined, it is fair to say that bonuses for this year will be examined in line with results," Murray said.

He added that employees at the hotels, outside of the corporate office, are usually given bonuses based on individual successes of their hotel.

"There will be mixed outcomes of bonus payments to these employees," he said.

Source: China Daily
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