How do you break through the glass ceiling and into the bonus program? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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How do you break through the glass ceiling and into the bonus program?

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Question: “A few administrative managers would like to approach executive management and propose that we be considered for the annual bonus program. Are there other office/administrative managers who receive an annual bonus? What is the criteria (tenure, number of reporting admin staff, etc.) or is it primarily performance based?” — Maggie


Our company does not give bonuses to non-exempt employees, sad to say. Administrative assistants (with the exception of those Admins who support Executive Committee members -- they are exempt employees) are only eligible for relatively small spot bonuses as recognition for completion of a special project or similar event. We can also get a bonus in lieu of a pay increase if we are topped out in our salary range. The company discussed adding certain classes of non-exempts to the annual bonus program, but they never came through. It's insulting to those of us who work so hard to make this company successful. The bonus program in place (for exempt employees only) is performance based and has several components, including how well the company performs both domestically and internationally (it is not only personal performance but company and division performance as well).

My company hands out bonuses to everyone, regardless of rank, based on company not personal performance.

BTW: What is the difference between an exempt and non-exempt employee?

I work for a very small, independently owned company. They offer me 3% of profit as a bonus. The only criteria is they must make a profit! Sounds funny, but in the mortgage industry that doesn't always happen anymore. Last quarter, we didn't make a profit, so I received a "free" week off with pay. It was better than nothing!

My company pays every employee twice annual bonuses. Each employee is expected to work on a departmental project over and above normal duties that will help improve the company in some way for each bonus period. Our bonuses are up to 10% of annual salary in total depending upon length of service with the company, your overall job performance and the amount of work put into your project.

Manufacturing employees are paid out a bonus monthly tied to their productivity in the manufacturing process. Of course, field sales people are in a different bonus category tied to sales performance. It is highly motivating to every employee and great for retention.

In a nutshell, exempt employees are on salary. Non-exempt employees are paid hourly plus a "premium" rate for any overtime hours.

As a salaried employee, I sometimes wince (privately!) at the generosity of the annual bonuses given to non-exempts who have already been paid time and a half or better for any "extra" hours they put in.

Have you asked management to explain their bonus philosophy? (Keep it low key and conversational; it may be a touchy subject!) Perhaps they feel that your hard work is just expected and already adequately compensated. Perhaps there really isn't that much money to go around. Perhaps they're selfish monsters who work you as hard as they can and keep the profits for themselves! ;)

Our organization does not normally give performance-based bonuses; our annual pay raises are based on our performance. We (exempt and non-exempt alike) normally do receive a modest year-end bonus assuming the organization ends the year financially healthy. I've been here 7 years and we've received a monetary bonus every year except one.

For the writer who asked about exempt vs. non-exempt, it ties into the Fair Labor Standards Act...salaried or hourly...overtime or comp time (or nothing)...a number of other qualifiers. The federal government gives general definitions as to whether jobs are classified exempt or non-exempt, usually tied to what the employee does and the conditions under which she does the tasks. We admins often fall on the line as to whether we're exempt or non-exempt, and the company makes that call. I was hired as non-exempt but within a couple months the CEO asked if I would prefer being exempt. I felt I could better support her if I were exempt, so I was changed.

The distinction between the two can drive levels of salary and benefits (monetary benefits as well as PTO and others) - but that's the company's call for the most part.

well done, man

We currently give bonuses to all staff during our Christmas party (and, yes we still call it a Christmas party regardless of how people feel it should be called a Holiday party) The bonus amount range in amounts based on your work produced but primarily by which department you work in. They are not large bonuses but the staff are happy to receive them along with many gifts. But we do also compensate certaion professionals with a large bonus if the company grows over a certain dollar amount. This is only provided to the professionals and not support staff, in turn we pay well here.

My company gives bonuses twice a year based on their financial results. They refer to it as their profit-sharing plan. The amount of the bonus depends on your position and length with the company. Every year it seems to get larger but we've been in a growth mode for the past 3 years. It is greatly appreciated no matter what amount it is. Especially in these days of little recognition or monetary perks.

I work for a small privately owned specialty contractor company (less than 20 employees)and we do annual bonuses for everyone. The bonus amount depends on tenure. Our technicians get job bonuses on large jobs that are completed early.

We began our bonus program by having everyone in our company read 'The Great Game of Business' by Jack Stack. This book deals with open book management where financials are openly discussed. The book explains how sharing information & goals with everyone has a positive impact on the company. The profits increase and great ideas & suggestions come . Everyone in the organization is pushing for a common goal. Perhaps the goal is contracting a certain number of new clients, selling a set amount of product, obtaining a pre-set profit margin, etc. The company decides what is most important and shares that goal with the entire company. Scoreboards showing progress are set up in the company so all employees can see how the company is doing. In our company, everyone, from the entry-level person to the senior executives, is elegible for a quarterly bonus. The bonus is based on both profits and performance. It's a great program and GGOB even has seminars on how to begin the program at your company. It has worked out well for us.

Unfortunately when it comes to bonus programs, many time administrative levels are simply not included in this structure. You may have to evaluate your career path and/or your motivations to see which is more important to you. In my experience, many of the types of positions that are rewarded with bonuses, include aspects of working there that I wouldn't want to deal with such as longer hours, having to be "on call" even on weekends, or having a much higher goal to reach. You may want to think about what it is that is really important to you.

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