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Were you a Scrooge or a Santa

Were you a Scrooge or a Santa Were you a Scrooge or a Santa? How is the practice of giving Christmas bonuses or presents faring in industry? An Industrial Management survey reveals that the practice may be fizzling out. Dave Grayston reports. WITH CHRISTMAS BEHIND us, the cost is being counted working-class gesture, unacceptable to anyone who isn't on all over the country. It is the time of the year when the tempta­ the shop floor. tion to overspend is almost irresistible and the desire of Out of the 12 top corporations in the Industrial Management commerce to help is at its height. survey—all in the top 300 of the Times 1,000—only four give Whether you spent cash or cheques, and whether the money bonuses—and none of them are pure Christmas gifts. The was saved or borrowed, there's no denying that a few extra companies that don't give, (with their numbers in the Times pounds would have made all the difference. And that's how 1,000) are BP (one), GKN (14), IBM (71), John Laing (103), practically every worker in British industry feels. Kodak (158), Decca (184), Monsanto (200) and Chubb & Sons In such a case, management is always cast as the villain of (238). the piece, often credited with the Victorian 'Christmas is Those companies that do give bonuses seem to have absorbed humbug' line, inflexibly turning away its collective face from the point that an inadequate gift is worse than no gift at all, any hint of merry-making. and that managements are more likely to be thought mean if The practice of giving Christmas gifts and bonuses used to be they give a paltry amount than they are if they don't bother. widespread in all sectors of industry and parts of the country. Undoubtedly the highest payer is store group John Lewis, But now it seems that today's large corporations can't be number 90 in the Times register—but it is a partnership bonus bothered. The small business, where it can afford a Christmas rather than a handout. Every employee of John Lewis has a treat, usually does so, and the reasons aren't hard to see. share in the company and a voice in how it is run. The bonus is calculated on the net profit figure of the group after dividends, Any kind of smaller commercial or industrial firm relies to a interest and pensions have been paid for, and is paid to each large extent on the goodwill of its employees overcoming any employee as a percentage of their wages. Last year's bonus minor grievance they might have. Disputes, in general, are settled amicably and with a minimum of disruption. figure, which is always paid in January, was 18 per cent, which must go a long way towards reducing the pain of recovering But the process is not one-sided, and a little thing like a from the festive season. Christmas bonus or gift can have an effect out of all proportion to its size. It really depends on whether the manager wants to Another store group, Curry's, number 220 in the Times index be seen as a Scrooge or a Santa—and whether he cares which also pays out to non-managerial staff, with the bonus cal­ it is. culated on length of service and a fixed percentage of weekly A survey specially carried out for Industrial Management of earnings. Managerial staff receive a separate, non-seasonal bonus. some of Britain's top companies, all of them household names, Giant glass manufacturers Pilkington pays out a six per cent reveals that the trend is away from giving any kind of gift to employees at any time. It is perhaps ironic that the country's bonus to all its salaried staff, half in December and half in largest employers, the Government, should have resolutely June, but 14,000 of the company's 20,000 employees are ignored the case for some kind of seasonal help for those on hourly-paid and thus don't qualify. fixed incomes for so long, and then suddenly swung in favour Calculator and computer makers National Cash Register, of what it seems will be a regular tenner for the pensioners. ranked number 295 in the Times survey, also pay the same kind The reason is a straightforward one. Apart from being a of bonus at the same times of year, but there is no fixed political gesture on behalf of the Government, it is a recogni­ percentage. The figure is calculated when the financial returns for each half of the year are in. This type of system, as a tion that the costs of Britain's annual binge have soared out of spokesman pointed out, can have drawbacks: 'Just after reach of the poorest in the population. It's worth bearing this decimalisation our profits were huge and so the bonuses were in mind. If inflation continues at the present rate lower paid sectors may begin to return to the idea of the seasonal bonus as enormous. When the slump came the next year they were part of a wage structure—especially if other avenues for right down.' improving pay are blocked. Arguments about whether a seasonal bonus is a hangover The Industrial Management survey shows conclusively that from the days of paternalism or an enlightened social gesture big business is turning away from any kind of specialised bonus are pretty fruitless. They can be a very expensive gesture with seemingly little in return, because what management gains in to workers, unless it is an integral part of the company's pay terms of goodwill, loyalty and co-operation is not quantifiable and profits structure. The arguments against such handouts on a balance sheet. seem to be threefold. First, that a world-wide company would be paying out for something, somewhere all year round. But it is undeniable that a little done at Christmas can mean Secondly, that workers in non-bonus firms are paid well a lot in terms of industrial relations later in the year. It just enough not to need gifts. Thirdly, that bonuses are rather a depends which you'd rather be—Scrooge or Santa. DECEMBER/JANUARY 1974 19 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Industrial Management Emerald Publishing

Were you a Scrooge or a Santa

Industrial Management , Volume 74 (1): 1 – Jan 1, 1974

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0007-6929
DOI
10.1108/eb056379
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Abstract

Were you a Scrooge or a Santa? How is the practice of giving Christmas bonuses or presents faring in industry? An Industrial Management survey reveals that the practice may be fizzling out. Dave Grayston reports. WITH CHRISTMAS BEHIND us, the cost is being counted working-class gesture, unacceptable to anyone who isn't on all over the country. It is the time of the year when the tempta­ the shop floor. tion to overspend is almost irresistible and the desire of Out of the 12 top corporations in the Industrial Management commerce to help is at its height. survey—all in the top 300 of the Times 1,000—only four give Whether you spent cash or cheques, and whether the money bonuses—and none of them are pure Christmas gifts. The was saved or borrowed, there's no denying that a few extra companies that don't give, (with their numbers in the Times pounds would have made all the difference. And that's how 1,000) are BP (one), GKN (14), IBM (71), John Laing (103), practically every worker in British industry feels. Kodak (158), Decca (184), Monsanto (200) and Chubb & Sons In such a case, management is always cast as the villain of (238). the piece, often credited with the Victorian 'Christmas is Those companies that do give bonuses seem to have absorbed humbug' line, inflexibly turning away its collective face from the point that an inadequate gift is worse than no gift at all, any hint of merry-making. and that managements are more likely to be thought mean if The practice of giving Christmas gifts and bonuses used to be they give a paltry amount than they are if they don't bother. widespread in all sectors of industry and parts of the country. Undoubtedly the highest payer is store group John Lewis, But now it seems that today's large corporations can't be number 90 in the Times register—but it is a partnership bonus bothered. The small business, where it can afford a Christmas rather than a handout. Every employee of John Lewis has a treat, usually does so, and the reasons aren't hard to see. share in the company and a voice in how it is run. The bonus is calculated on the net profit figure of the group after dividends, Any kind of smaller commercial or industrial firm relies to a interest and pensions have been paid for, and is paid to each large extent on the goodwill of its employees overcoming any employee as a percentage of their wages. Last year's bonus minor grievance they might have. Disputes, in general, are settled amicably and with a minimum of disruption. figure, which is always paid in January, was 18 per cent, which must go a long way towards reducing the pain of recovering But the process is not one-sided, and a little thing like a from the festive season. Christmas bonus or gift can have an effect out of all proportion to its size. It really depends on whether the manager wants to Another store group, Curry's, number 220 in the Times index be seen as a Scrooge or a Santa—and whether he cares which also pays out to non-managerial staff, with the bonus cal­ it is. culated on length of service and a fixed percentage of weekly A survey specially carried out for Industrial Management of earnings. Managerial staff receive a separate, non-seasonal bonus. some of Britain's top companies, all of them household names, Giant glass manufacturers Pilkington pays out a six per cent reveals that the trend is away from giving any kind of gift to employees at any time. It is perhaps ironic that the country's bonus to all its salaried staff, half in December and half in largest employers, the Government, should have resolutely June, but 14,000 of the company's 20,000 employees are ignored the case for some kind of seasonal help for those on hourly-paid and thus don't qualify. fixed incomes for so long, and then suddenly swung in favour Calculator and computer makers National Cash Register, of what it seems will be a regular tenner for the pensioners. ranked number 295 in the Times survey, also pay the same kind The reason is a straightforward one. Apart from being a of bonus at the same times of year, but there is no fixed political gesture on behalf of the Government, it is a recogni­ percentage. The figure is calculated when the financial returns for each half of the year are in. This type of system, as a tion that the costs of Britain's annual binge have soared out of spokesman pointed out, can have drawbacks: 'Just after reach of the poorest in the population. It's worth bearing this decimalisation our profits were huge and so the bonuses were in mind. If inflation continues at the present rate lower paid sectors may begin to return to the idea of the seasonal bonus as enormous. When the slump came the next year they were part of a wage structure—especially if other avenues for right down.' improving pay are blocked. Arguments about whether a seasonal bonus is a hangover The Industrial Management survey shows conclusively that from the days of paternalism or an enlightened social gesture big business is turning away from any kind of specialised bonus are pretty fruitless. They can be a very expensive gesture with seemingly little in return, because what management gains in to workers, unless it is an integral part of the company's pay terms of goodwill, loyalty and co-operation is not quantifiable and profits structure. The arguments against such handouts on a balance sheet. seem to be threefold. First, that a world-wide company would be paying out for something, somewhere all year round. But it is undeniable that a little done at Christmas can mean Secondly, that workers in non-bonus firms are paid well a lot in terms of industrial relations later in the year. It just enough not to need gifts. Thirdly, that bonuses are rather a depends which you'd rather be—Scrooge or Santa. DECEMBER/JANUARY 1974 19

Journal

Industrial ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 1, 1974

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