Not a good year for bonuses, raises

Not a good year for bonuses, raises
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Planning to buy that big ticket item with your year-end bonus? You might want to wait until you know how much you are getting.

Bonuses are likely to be stagnant or lower, and fewer employees will receive salary increments this year, said employment agencies.

This is because Singapore is still feeling the impact of a global economic slowdown, which began last year, said Mr Nilay Khandelwal, the regional director of employment agency Michael Page Singapore.

As a result, bonuses will generally be stagnant or decrease.

He told The New Paper: "If the company has made losses, then it will need to cut costs, and one way to do that is to cut bonuses, since it is a performance indicator."

He stressed that this will not apply to all fields and organisations.

Listing the digital, fintech, and risk industries as having high demand for employees, Mr Khandelwal said: "Companies will still reward individuals in niche markets to make sure they do not leave."

Mr Paul Heng, founder and managing director of NeXT Career Consulting Group, said: "A good guess for this year is that things will remain status quo.

"The economy remains uncertain because of the US, but for now, the outlook for bonuses and increments seems fairly similar to last year."

Online employment company's job outlook and bonus survey released last week gave the average guaranteed bonus, or annual wage supplement (AWS), received by employees here last year at about 1.45 months.

In the survey, about 30 per cent of the 400-plus respondents said they did not receive any AWS last year, while more than 35 per cent said they did not get any performance-based bonus, up from 25.1 per cent in 2013.

Bonuses for civil servants have also been shrinking.

Civil servants received 1.5 months of year-end bonus last year, said the Public Service Division last November.

The bonus was 1.65 months in 2015 and 1.8 months in 2014.

In a report last month, recruitment firm Hays said 66 per cent of employers here intend to give bonuses to all employees this year, while a quarter plan to reward only some employees.

About 73 per cent of the bonus-paying employers expect the bonuses to be worth 50 per cent or less of staff salary.


Not only are the bonuses shrinking, but fewer employers are also planning to increase salaries this year.

Hays said 46 per cent of employers here plan to give a pay rise of 3 per cent to 6 per cent, 34 per cent plan to give up to 3 per cent and 9 per cent do not plan to give any.

Despite the gloomy outlook, some employees remain positive.

In the Hays survey, 20 per cent of them expect a pay rise of 6 per cent to 10 per cent and another 14 per cent expect more than 10 per cent, which do not match the sentiments of employers (8 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively).

More realistically, 29 per cent of employees expect an increase from 3 per cent to 6 per cent, 25 per cent expect up to 3 per cent, and 13 per cent do not expect a pay rise.

This article was first published on April 1, 2017.
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