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2008 HR Bonus Payouts were Still Strong in Certain Sectors

A recently poll conducted by The Chapman Consulting Group during the month of March 2009 looked at the how participants had fared in respect of their bonuses for the 2008 calendar year. The poll was answered by 114 HR Directors across the Asia Pacific Japan region who had recently been paid out during the first quarter of 2009.

18% of respondents described their bonus payouts for 2008 as being higher than target. “These are likely to have been companies in bright star industries including life sciences, some industrial companies and several robust financial institutions”, said Oscar Fuchs, Associate Director at The Chapman Consulting Group. “We have seen some senior HR talent from these organisations reporting bonuses of upwards of 50% of base salary, which are high even by normal market standards”, said Fuchs

26% of HR Directors surveyed commented that their bonus payouts had been ‘at target’ and in-line with promised expectations. Significantly, 33% of the survey participants had received lower than expected 2008 bonus payouts and an alarming 21% of respondents had received no 2008 bonuses at all. “Had the worst of the economic downturn occurred earlier in 2008, we think that the figures for these two categories would have been even worse”, according to Fuchs. “Many organisations in Asia only started to feel the real pinch of falling sales and profits later in the year, so these haven’t impacted discretionary compensation to the extent they could have”.

It is difficult to say what 2009 bonus payouts will look like this time next year, however one thing is for sure, expectations on next year’s payout figures are definitely low among HR practitioners. “We are seeing virtually all HR talent who are switching jobs at the moment putting a large emphasis on ‘guaranteed cash’, as a component of their package, as opposed to possible bonuses”, continued Fuchs. “People are cynical of bonus targets being achieved, especially where part or all of the bonus is dependent upon company performance”. ​

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