November 25th, 2012
Get a Christmas Bonus: 10 Tips

If you work for an organization where a Christmas bonus is given in recognition of your contribution and achievement, this article is for you. There is no doubt that the current financial crisis has now made the idea of getting a Christmas bonus more necessary than ever.

Written by Catherine Adenle

This is how real-life bonus system works for most people:

If you do your job well, your bonus is that you keep your job sometimes with a little gift to say thank you at Christmas. If you muddle through your tasks, your bonus is that you get demoted, remain stagnate, face disciplinary actions or get set objectives to help you develop further. If you do your job poorly, your bonus is that you are shown the door without hesitation, warned to improve or else…

I feel that this is an effective motivational tool for all regardless of position. However, if you are sure that you performed well at work this year by adding value to your organization and perhaps you feel like you deserve to get a Christmas bonus, even if it’s not part of your current compensation package, there is no reason for you not to ask for a bonus from your boss.

How to ask for a Christmas bonus

You have to think carefully about the way you approach the subject of a ‘bonus’. Frankly, sometimes just meeting expectations is not enough to earn that extra cash at the end of the year. Going the extra mile is what will set you aside, get your boss to notice and get a Christmas bonus. Remember, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is ‘extra’. 

There is no ‘proper’ or standard way to ask for a bonus at Christmas. It’s not something that people are trained to do, and little is written about it.

People use various approaches, they discuss it informally; discuss with colleagues and hope the boss gets to hear; they drop hints here and there to test the water; they ask the boss politely; demand firmly; or go over the boss’s head.

If you want to ask for a bonus this year, here are 10 tips to help you get a Christmas bonus as deserved.

  1. Just do it – Ask for one! It sounds simple, but it’s the best way for you to get a Christmas bonus. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. 
    Before you ask, know that you truly deserve a bonus. Approach your boss now, smile and tell him politely that you would like a meeting with him later today or tomorrow. Then, sit down and map out a plan that will let you  get the bonus. Note down the goals and targets that you achieved or met during the year. Use the right measures to demonstrate your effectiveness. Be sure to know the bonus structure of your company and document the points of your effectiveness.
  2. Plan and control. Don’t wait for your boss to ask you to justify why you deserve a bonus. Take the initiative to plan, document your reasons, control the meeting and show the effectiveness of your contributions. Apply your professional experiences and knowledge to your position, show your boss that you have simplified your boss’ job, or suggested and executed an idea to improve a process for the company. Show your boss that you are not only a go-getter, but a thinker too.
  3. Show that you are valuable. Talk is cheap if you cannot back it up. Can you showcase your contributions? Have you taken on extra projects or responsibilities that may or may not be in your job scope? Have you helped other departments when they needed an extra hand? Are you seeing the bigger picture? And have you simply learned and grown in your job? Can you show that you are an asset to the job, to your boss and the company? Then, waste no time, go and discuss with your boss and let him or her know that you truly deserve this bonus.
  4. Remember to document your successes this year. Hopefully you have kept a log documenting what projects you have completed, your accomplishments and extra responsibilities you took on. That way, when it’s time to discuss your bonus or ask for a bonus, show your boss exactly what successes and accomplishments you have made in your job. If you haven’t kept a record of anything, sit down, think and remember your accomplishments. Going through your old e-mails might jolt your memory.
  5. Make every success count. If you are sure that you have given 100% to all your projects, big or small, say so. Sometimes the most unattractive projects end up being the ones that save the company thousands in money, making the company a little richer. See if you have facts and data to back you up and be sure of your facts before you step into your boss’s office.
  6. Don’t be greedy. Don’t let your eyes be larger than what your organization can give you. Times are hard, be reasonable. If you know that your organization is struggling, be realistic with your demands. Let your boss know of your achievements and be happy with whatever you are offered. In some cases, a big ‘thank you’ speech in front of other managers, directors and your colleagues instead of a monetary reward could be what is on offer. Note that this kind of recognition should suffice and in some cases better than money in the long run, so be happy with this.
  7. What if you get nothing? Again, it depends on your boss’s take on this. Did his body language show what he’s saying? Was he truly sorry that the company had no budget to cover Christmas bonuses? Did he respond fairly sensitively and openly? Did he try to understand your needs and feelings before he explained the company’s position? Did he just ignore you but focus on one thing that you haven’t finalized  Did he agree, smile, and then inform you of the fact that there’s no bonus? Did he promise one for next year? If he is positive about your request and sees it as positive, then, be happy and thank your boss for his time. Even if you have a boss that’s oblivious and totally ignorant when it comes to reward and recognition, just not let that deter you from performing better next year.

  1. Your Future. The tips here might not get a Christmas bonus immediately, but these tips will eventually bring a better reward and outcome than doing nothing, or doing something the wrong way. Think about this, it could be that your boss or employer has simply reached the limit of the value that they can place on your role, which is different to your value as an individual. You could have a very high potential value, but if your role does not enable you to perform to your fullest extent, then your reward level will be suppressed.
  2. Take Control. If you work for a company that is not interested in rewarding your present level as a staff, then, take control of your work life. Aside from issues of exploitation and unfairness, if you find that the gap between your expectations and your employer’s limit is too great to bridge, then look to find or develop yourself in a role which commands a higher value, and therefore reward. You can do this with your present employer by agreeing wider responsibilities and opportunities for you to contribute to organisational performance and profit, or perhaps with a new employer.
  3. Make a commitment. If you get no bonus or any kind of acknowledgement as you deserve, then, focus on how to develop your value further to the employer and the market-place, rather than simply trying to achieve a reward for what you are already doing. Make a commitment to yourself. Decide today that everything you do will be geared toward strengthening your case for receiving more than a bonus next year. Follow the 10 tips in this article and you should be on the right track for higher compensation rewards by the end of next year. Good luck!

Did you ask for and get a Christmas bonus last year? If you did, are there any further tips you can share with us? Please go ahead and add your comments below.


Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping you to explore your career at any stage.

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