The latest Robert Walters annual Salary Survey shows that over three-fifths (68%) of UK employees are considering quitting their jobs if they do not receive a year-end bonus this January.

The survey, which tracks remuneration predictions for the upcoming year, surveyed 4,000 white-collar professionals and 2,000 employers to identify workplace trends.

The data highlights a significant misalignment between employee expectations and employer budgeting practices. While a whopping 75 percent of employers believe year-end bonuses are crucial for retaining talent, a third of them have not budgeted for these bonuses, and 34 percent have decided to skip them altogether in their early 2024 financial plans.

This disparity has left 41 percent of employees not expecting a bonus for their hard work in 2023.

According to the findings, 52 percent of companies have allocated budgets for year-end bonuses, indicating that a substantial portion of employers is acknowledging the importance of this form of compensation.

However, the high percentage of employees (68%) stating that they will ‘seriously contemplate’ leaving their current jobs if they miss out on a year-end bonus underscores the significance of this aspect in their overall job satisfaction.

Retaining top talent is still a challenge

Chris Eldridge, CEO of Robert Walters UK, commented on the findings, emphasising the continued challenge of attracting and retaining top talent in a talent-short market. Eldridge noted, “A year-end bonus remains a crucial retention tool, influencing almost 4 in 5 employees’ career plans. It serves as recognition and reward for employees’ dedication and contributions, showcasing a sense of appreciation. It also helps with motivation for the following year – when people feel appreciated, they are more committed to continuing the hard work to reap the benefits in the years to come.”

Eldridge urged companies to recognise the cost implications of losing employees, stating, “It costs around 6-9 months of an employee’s salary to replace them when they are gone. So, when you put it like that – a bonus is a much smaller cost than said employee leaving.”

What about employee priorities?

Beyond year-end bonuses, the survey also delved into additional employee priorities. While flexible work arrangements topped the list as a priority for 36 percent of respondents, competitive salary (27%), positive work-life balance (23%), and good development opportunities (14%) were closely following.

As organisations grapple with the aftermath of a challenging year, Chris Eldridge emphasised the need for a holistic approach to employee strategies. “A holistic approach to employee strategies, incorporating more than just monetary benefits, is vital in securing and nurturing a strong workforce,” Eldridge said.

He concluded by noting that 81 percent of professionals have reported that they will be exploring job alternatives in the new year, reinforcing the urgency for companies to maintain an attractive and competitive employee offering.






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.