13% of employers plan bonuses of 3 to 5 months, but majority to give 1 to 2 months: Survey

The 2019 Bonus Expectations Survey was conducted in January and February 2019 and covered about 100 employers and 400 Singapore-based professionals across nine industries. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Over two in 10 employees surveyed by recruitment firm Randstad Singapore are expecting bonuses of three months to five months of salary this year.

But only 13 per cent of employers are planning to give bonuses of that amount.

The majority of employers, or 66 per cent, plan to give bonuses of one month to two months of salary, according to the 2019 Bonus Expectations Survey published on Tuesday (April 2).

More than half of the employees taking part in the survey or 57 per cent think they will receive that amount.

"This highlights a misalignment in bonus expectations between employers and employees," said the survey report.

The inaugural survey, conducted in January and February (2019), covered about 100 employers and 400 Singapore-based professionals across nine industries such as banking and financial services, information technology, manufacturing and construction.

Two companies out of all those surveyed plan to pay bonuses of more than five months' salary. Randstad did not say which industries these companies are from.

In general, employees seemed more optimistic about prospects this year. Some 83 per cent said they are expecting a bonus this year, while only 52 per cent received a bonus last year.

But over a third, or 36 per cent, said they would start looking for a new job if they did not receive a bonus this year.

Randstad Singapore country director Jaya Dass said: "2018 was a great year of growth for businesses in Singapore and employees are expecting bonuses as a form of reward not just for their hard work, but also for their loyalty to the organisation."

To boost staff retention, managers should make use of regular meetings to understand some of the challenges their teams are facing and resolve those challenges together, she suggested.

The mismatch in expectations was more stark in the banking and financial services industry, where about a quarter of employees are hoping for bonuses of three months' to five months' of salary, but only about one in 10 employers plan to pay out such bonuses.

In particular, employees working in wealth management and investment banks may receive bonuses that are slightly below their expectations, the report noted.

Ms Lim Chai Leng, director of the banking and financial services team at Randstad Singapore, said employers will need to make sure that employees' expectations are properly managed if they are going to be more conservative with bonus payouts this year.

"Banks and financial institutions are generally perceived as good paymasters, especially when it comes to rewarding their high performers," she said.

"If companies know that they are unable to meet the employees' expectations, they will need to be transparent during performance reviews. Explain all of the considerations that go into the calculation of a bonus payout, such as the individual's performance, how bonuses are being allocated, future global business strategy and investments, and more."

She added that managers should highlight other rewards that employees could receive from the company, such as opportunities for training or working in a larger regional role.

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