Study says 3 of 4 employers offering year-end bonuses, is area following suit?

$1 bill.

$1 bill.

A recent national survey conducted by Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc. found about 75 percent of private employers planned to offer some type of year-end bonus this year. That number, according to the survey, is up from 53 percent in 2011.

— More private employers are expected to hand out year-end bonuses in 2012 than did in 2011, but experts said this move isn't necessarily indicative of what's to come in 2013.

A recent national survey conducted by Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc. found about 75 percent of private employers planned to offer some type of year-end bonus this year. That number, according to the survey, is up from 53 percent in 2011.

"Companies have been relatively profitable," said John Challenger, president of the Chicago-based company. "They're reporting strong earnings ... and this would suggest that employers have more money in the bonus pools."

The survey, which Challenger said was sent to a range of companies across the United States, found 28 percent of employers planned to hand out bonus checks based on the company's annual performance. Another 17 percent said they planned to award bonuses to a "select group of employees based on individual performance."

Performance is the route NCH Healthcare System takes when it comes to bonuses, spokeswoman Debbie Curry said.

The health-care system, Curry said, rewards employees based on a number of metrics, including patient satisfaction. NCH has between 3,800 and 4,000 employees, depending on the season. The hospital system is the second-largest employer in Collier County, according to a 2011 annual report published by county government.

"At this time, we have paid out on the 'key contributor' bonus program for those employees who have demonstrated excellence in job performance, outstanding standards of behavior and gracious volunteerism to fellow employees and to our community this past year," Curry said in an email to the Daily News.

While NCH hands out bonuses primarily on a merit-based system, Lisa Gardiner, spokeswoman for Arthrex Inc., said the North Naples-based company pays out bonuses to all employees based on the company's annual performance. Arthrex has about 1,200 local employees.

The company does take into account an employee's "tenure and unique contributions to Arthrex's success" before cutting the bonus check, Gardiner added in an email.

The survey, which Challenger said was sent to a range of companies across the United States, found 28 percent of employers planned to hand out bonus checks based on the company's annual performance. Another 17 percent said they planned to award bonuses to a "select group of employees based on individual performance."

But Arthrex employees aren't getting their bonus checks this month. Instead, Gardiner said, the company pays its annual profit-sharing bonus at the end of its fiscal year in June, not December.

"There are no plans to change this part of the compensation mix in the future," she said.

While there may be more happy employees as 2012 comes to an end than this time last year, the Challenger survey showed that about a fourth of the companies said there would be no bonuses this year.

That's the case for many public sector employees across Collier County this year. Officials with both the school district and county government, two of Collier's largest employers, said bonuses won't be given out this year, and in some cases haven't been given out for years.

Margie Hapke, a county government spokeswoman, said while county government once provided merit increases to employees — sometimes in the form of a one-time bonus — it has been "many years since any were issued."

County government, Hapke added, doesn't award year-end bonuses.

Collier government — excluding the Sheriff's Office — employs more than 2,100 people and is the fourth-largest employer in the county. The school district has more than 5,400 employees and is the county's largest employer, according to the county's 2011 comprehensive annual report.

Roger Reinke

Roger Reinke

Bonuses may be a rarity in public sector jobs, but Roger Reinke, Naples' assistant city manager, said Naples employees do get a year-end bonus.

City employees receive a $100 holiday bonus check in December as part of the city's compensation package. The bonus program was frozen for a couple of years as the city tried to cut expenses, but Reinke said city officials decided to start it back up in 2011. The city has about 450 full-time positions.

While employers may be more likely to hand out bonuses this year, experts said that doesn't necessarily mean raises or better benefits in 2013. Instead, Heather Vogel, president of the HR Florida State Council, said bonuses are a way to reward employees without having to make a long-term payroll commitment.

"With bonuses, you don't have to give one if you don't want to, it's discretionary," she said. "When employers are making choices about discretionary income, it's a sign that it is rebounding."

Challenger said his company isn't projecting many changes when it comes to pay raises. Instead, he said, companies are expected to "hold down salary ranges" in 2013.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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