Employees want holiday bonuses this year—but they may be getting pizza parties instead

Colleagues eating pizza together.
Carlina Teteris | Moment | Getty Images

Many businesses are struggling right now, with inflation woes and mass layoffs making headlines in recent weeks. But that hasn't stopped employees from expecting holiday bonuses.

In fact, 67% of employees say they would quit or consider quitting if they don't receive a holiday bonus this year, according to new research from Skynova, an online invoicing company for small businesses, which surveyed over 1,800 employers and employees.

A whopping 98% of workers who received a bonus in 2021 stayed with their same employer this year, Skynova's report found. This year, companies that don't offer bonuses may lose talent, says Joe Mercurio, a representative from Skynova.

"Many business owners are experiencing fiscal anxiety in this economic climate, but not giving out bonuses could ultimately backfire," Mercurio tells CNBC Make It. "With job openings outnumbering job seekers 2 to 1, employees have the power and expect to be rewarded for their performance and loyalty."

Here's how likely employees are to get holiday bonuses this year — and what they could be receiving instead. 

Deciding factors for bonuses

"Holiday bonuses are among the most common ways employers express their appreciation for the hard work their employees have put in throughout the year," Mercurio says.

But hard work isn't the only deciding factor.

Nearly 50% of employers say employee tenure plays a role in choosing who gets a bonus, according to the report. Other factors: 41% take whether or not the employee has children into consideration, 39% look at the quality of their work and 25% assess how much they like the employee personally. 

Freelancers have the upper hand when it comes to holiday bonuses, with companies being 34% more likely to give them one over contractors, who usually aren't self-employed.

Less sizeable employers seem to have more wiggle room for bonuses this year.

"Smaller businesses have fewer employees, so they're more likely to be able to reward them with bonuses," Mercurio says. "Employees at small businesses are 51% more likely to think they'll receive a holiday bonus this year than employees of larger businesses."

Alternatives to bonuses: Pizza parties, gift cards, baked goods

Employers who can't offer bonuses this holiday season are finding creative — and more affordable — ways to show their appreciation.

Some 48% of employers are offering their workers pizza parties in lieu of bonuses, while 43% are handing out gift cards, 33% are throwing holiday parties and 31% are offering baked goods.

Team building activities (10%), thank you notes (14%) and extra time off (14%) are less popular alternatives for employers, but still show recognition for the hard work and contributions employees have displayed. 

Even if you don't receive a cash reward this year, Mercurio says to hold out hope: Those won't be gone forever. 

"Holiday bonuses go a long way toward employee retention, so they're not likely to go away any time soon," he says. "Employees want to feel appreciated, and over 92% of employers who gave out holiday bonuses in 2021 say it improved productivity."

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