Record holiday bonuses but less time off

One survey finds company spending on holiday celebrations is up and more employers are giving bonuses but not as much paid time with the family.

By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- First, some holiday cheer. This year a record number of companies - 49 percent - will be giving their employees year-end gifts or bonuses.

But paid time off for the holidays beyond the days of Christmas and New Year's has been steadily declining for the past two decades. As for drinking at the holiday party, well, you might want to listen to that angel on your shoulder who urges moderation because companies are beginning to take note.

Those are a few of the findings from a survey released Tuesday by business information publisher BNA and sponsored by workplace consulting firm Kronos Inc.

BNA didn't ask survey participants this year how much they were planning to give. But in years past, the median bonus came in between $200 and $300, and it is likely to be somewhat higher this year given that the economy has been strong, said BNA research director Joshua Joseph.

Companies also said they were as likely to give gifts or bonuses to non-management personnel as they were to managers.

This year, Christmas and New Year's Day fall on a Monday and at the vast majority of companies both days will be paid holidays, making for back-to-back three-day weekends.

And 43 percent of companies said they will offer their workers three or more paid days off, including the two holidays. But that's below the 49 percent that did in 2000 and the 60 percent that gave three or more days in 1989, when the holidays also fell on a Monday, BNA found.

BNA researchers noted the pattern has been similar over the past 20 years no matter what day of the week the holidays fall.

As for the notorious office Christmas party, it's still alive and kicking. Eighty-two percent of employers will hold at least one this year, and the majority (86 percent) will pick up the tab in full. Spending on parties has gone up in recent years, Joseph said. This year, large companies will spend a median of $25,000 on company-wide parties, while smaller ones will spend a median of $5,700.

Which brings us to the fabled open bar.

Seventy-four percent of the companies that plan to serve alcohol at their parties say they will ask bartenders to monitor consumption, 45 percent will limit the time during which alcohol is served, 41 percent will offer taxis home for the inebriated and 32 percent are even arranging for hotel discounts for those would prefer to stay overnight.

There was no indication in the survey, however, whether companies would also be keeping track of just who checks in with you.


Cisco Systems (Charts), Texas Instruments (Charts) and Yahoo (Charts) are among the top-paying companies on Fortune's annual list of Best Companies to Work For.

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