Just 10% of white-collar professionals have been told they will receive their January bonus – despite working all of 2020

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Just 10% of white-collar professionals have been told they will receive their January bonus – despite working all of 2020

Just 10% of professionals who worked the entirety of 2020 were told pre-Christmas that they will definitely receive their January bonus, whilst a third (31%) live in hope that they will receive this month’s bonus for their 2020 achievements – despite not actually receiving any confirmation.

  • Just 10% of full-time Irish professional will receive their anticipated January bonus
  • 76% of bonuses will be based on company profit/revenue
  • A tenth of bonuses will be based on managers discretion
  • Only 15% of companies plan to offer promised pay increases
  • Half of pay increases will be determined by ‘business-critical’ requirement due to Covid
  • 36% of employees will not negotiate pay increase this year due to impact Covid-19 has had on their industry/business

21% of white-collar workers have safely assumed that they will not receive their annual bonus, whilst a further 13% have received official confirmation from their employer that their end-of-month January appraisals will not include their usual bonus package.

The findings come from the Robert Walters annual 2021 Ireland Salary Survey – which for the first time in the 20-year history of the survey has such doubt been cast on renumeration.

When surveying employers, just 14% stated that they were ‘very likely’ to pay out on bonuses.

An overwhelming 76% of bonuses will be determined based on the company’s profit/revenue, and less than half (43%) will base it off individual targets over the last year.

A fifth of businesses will base bonuses on team/departmental targets, and shareholder/market confidence.

Just 10% of bonuses will be left down to managers discretion – highlighting the control board level have taken over the financial pot during the pandemic.

Louise Campbell, Managing Director of Robert Walters Ireland, comments:

“It has no doubt been a difficult year for both employees and employers alike – and as a result tough decisions will need to continue being made by managers into early 2021.

“Whilst conversations around renumeration may not be all positive for the beginning of the year, managers should really enforce the critical role each of their employees played in helping to maintain their own, their colleagues, and the wider-businesses position throughout the pandemic – it has truly been a team effort.

“We have all hopefully had a lot of learnings from the world’s largest remote working experiment and so in January appraisals consider other benefits that can help offset pay – such as increasing autonomy, flexible-hours, secondment opportunities, areas to upskill, and wellbeing initiatives.”


Over a third of workers (36%) stated that they felt optimistic about receiving their anticipated pay increase this year, whilst only 15% of companies stated that they would be likely to offer previously promised pay increases.

Level of business-critical requirement (48%) has overtaken all other parameters this year in helping determine which professionals will receive a pay rise. In contrast, 38% will base bonusses on employee performance, 29% on industry/business performance, 24% on concerns over retention rate, and 19% on whether an employee has gone ‘above & beyond’ during Covid-19.

Of those receiving a pay upgrade, half will only receive an increase of 1-5%, whilst a fifth will receive an increase of 6-10% - according to the Robert Walters survey undertaken by 600 companies in Ireland.

Over a third of employees (36%) stated that they were unlikely to attempt negotiating a pay increase this year due to their industry or business being heavily impacted by Covid-19.

Other reasons for staff not bringing up pay increases in their January appraisals include not wanting to jeopardise job security (9%), having already taken a pay cut or reduced hours (8%), and being put off due to colleagues being made redundant (6%).

To download a copy of the 2021 Robert Walters Salary Survey.

Article Published: 26/01/2021