Year of Dragon eats up annual bonuses

Updated: 2012-01-26 10:01

By Wu Yiyao (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - Banking and financial services were the only industries to report an obvious decrease in year-end bonuses this year compared with last.

In its latest quarterly report, released ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Hudson human resources company said that only 20 percent of banking and financial services employers said they would offer any bonuses worth 20 percent of workers' annual income or higher, compared with 39 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

Twelve percent of employers in the banking and financial services said they will not consider giving bonuses in 2012.

The survey interviewed about 1,800 employers in December across major industries, including manufacturing, consumer and financial services, on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Its findings echo the not-so-thriving financial markets and the spillover from the European debt crisis, and an uncertain future for the market, said Bi Lin, general manager of Hudson's Shanghai office.

Cai Yu, 29, an account manager, said his employer, a securities company in Beijing, handled only one initial public offering in 2011.

"In fact, I've had nothing to do since the fourth quarter of 2011 - there is no business in the industry, and I did not expect any bonus. In fact, the human resources department did not even mention this to us, which is unusual in our company," Cai said.

Cai said he is upset that there was no bonus for this Spring Festival, but given that the market is so weak, he and his colleagues understand it.

An insider of a human resources department at a State-owned bank in Shanghai said tightening personnel budgets is an important cost-control strategy.

"We may reduce costs in various ways, for example, lowering the cost of incentive trips for outstanding employees. In the past, it might have been a trip overseas, but this year we're considering giving a trip to a neighboring province," the insider said.

Employees might complain, but the company would try to compensate by expanding how many days the trip is and buying employees gifts.

But there are always lucky exceptions when it comes to year-end bonuses.

"My year-end bonus was about 30,000 yuan ($4,750) last year and it went up to 50,000 yuan this year. But considering the surging CPI and my better performance this year, the boost is not very much. Still, I can't complain. It's already a good amount compared with what most of my friends in other industries get," said Li Yang, a wealth manager at a State-owned bank in Shanghai.

Money remains a powerful incentive for employees, especially newly recruited talent, according to the survey.

"In the past, I would have said the balance between work and life counts for more than money, but this year I think cash gives me more of a sense of security," said Chen Qilong, 38, manager of a telecom service firm.

Up to 53 percent of surveyed employers said they will use cash to keep the loyalties of employees and to attract newly recruited members. About 30 percent offered a work-and-life balance and 13 percent share-holding opportunities.

China Daily