How generous will your employer be this holiday season?
Few of us will ever see the holiday bonuses that Wall Street is famous, or notorious, for handing out at the end of each year, although a recent report suggests that bonuses in the financial sector are expected to be down by around five to ten percent this holiday season.
And while end-of-year compensation shouldn't be confused with the annual performance-based bonuses that some workers receive, those bonuses are considered an important perk for employees during the holiday shopping season, or simply a way to help workers make ends meet.
But according to a survey by the personal finance website Bankrate.com, less then one-quarter of Americans expect some form of holiday bonus this season, while just 12 percent expect to see a year-end pay raise.
That data differs dramatically from a similar report issued last year by the outplacement consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which found that 78 percent of those surveyed said their companies were offering a year-end gift or bonus.
Mike Cetera, an analyst with Bankrate.com, believes the report says a lot about the psyche of many employees as 2015 nears an end.
"We really live in pessimistic times," he says. "Workers have lived through a huge recession and come out the other side of it, and still are seeing fewer opportunities for raises, fewer opportunities for bonuses -- and they're sort of just conditioned to this fact."
Cetera notes that not all U.S. businesses work on the traditional calendar, and that many workers do receive their bonuses during the first quarter of their company's new fiscal year.
But he also notes that while the overall economy may be improving, the Bankrate survey shows the average worker isn't seeing that improvement in their personal lives, or in their paychecks.
"They're sort of seeing that things are maybe not quite as awful as they were during the Great Recession," he adds, "but certainly their mood is not very good."
While many companies are still under post-recession financial pressures, industry observers say businesses should show some gesture of gratitude to their workers during the holiday season, if only for the sake of employee morale and increased job loyalty.
"You don't have to be extravagant about your holiday bonuses, but it's important to show recognition," Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals, the nation's largest franchised staffing company, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said in a press statement late last year. "As one respondent told us, 'A thank you note will suffice.'"