Almost a third of Irish professional employers do not expect to pay year-end bonuses

Aldagh McDonogh 08.12.2011

Highlights from the Irish Employment Monitor - November 2011 and the Bonus Expectations Survey 2011.


Bonus Expectations Survey highlights

  • Morgan McKinley’s Bonus Expectations Survey in November 11 found that 29% of professional employers do not expect to pay year-end bonuses. 18% are still not sure if bonuses will be paid
  • The remaining 53% predict that their companies will be paying year-end bonuses. However, the majority (77%) expect that these bonus payments will be modest, at approximately 1-10% of base salaries

Irish Employment Monitor highlights

  • The November 11 Morgan McKinley Irish Employment Monitor recorded a month-on-month decrease of 12% in the number of new professional jobs in Ireland
  • There was however an increase of 24% in the number of professional job opportunities when compared to the same time last year
  • The number of professionals entering the jobs market rose 8% from October 11 to November 11
  • Compared to November 10 there was a slight decrease (1%) in the volume of professionals seeking new career opportunities in Ireland

Bonus payments for 2011/12 expected to be modest

In November 11, Morgan McKinley carried out a Bonus Expectations Survey with 584 senior-level operational and HR managers across Ireland to find out their views on forthcoming year-end bonuses. The results showed that almost a third (29%) of professional employers in Ireland do not expect to pay year-end bonuses, with a further 18% still unsure of their plans for the 2011/12 bonus round.

Just over half (53%) of survey respondents expect to pay year-end bonuses but for the majority (77%) these will be quite modest at approximately 1-10% of base salaries. Only 1% of companies expect to pay significant bonuses of 26% of base salaries and above.

The bonus outlook is relatively similar across the four major sectors surveyed: financial services, IT, manufacturing and professional services. The forecasts for the size of bonus payments for the majority of companies is slightly higher for manufacturing and IT at 6-10% of base salaries (44% of manufacturing companies predict this range; 49% of IT) than for financial services and professional services at 1-5% of base salaries (37% of financial services institutions predict this range; 35% of professional services).

Karen O’Flaherty, Chief Operations Officer, Morgan McKinley commented: “The results of our recent Bonus Expectations Survey show that almost a third of financial services, IT, manufacturing and professional services firms in Ireland do not expect to pay year-end bonuses. This indicates that many Irish businesses are still highly cost-cautious heading into 2012, which is understandable against the backdrop of volatility in the Eurozone and ongoing domestic economic challenges.

“Despite this mood of austerity, just over half of employers are expecting to distribute modest bonuses in December or January. It must be emphasised that the majority of respondents predicted that these would be 10% of basic salaries at best. For many companies, these bonus payments are likely to be gestures of goodwill towards their employees, many of whom would not have received pay increases or bonuses for three or more years. Even in this challenging economic climate, employers recognise there are still shortages of skilled professionals in certain sectors, so staff retention is a priority. Where salary increases are not feasible, some companies are rewarding staff with bonuses, increased benefits or work/life balance incentives.

“This is particularly the case within the IT sector, Ireland’s ‘good news’ story for business and jobs growth in 2011. It is has been widely publicised that demand for talented IT professionals often outstrips supply, particularly within the field of software development. Almost half of IT employers expect to pay year-end bonuses of 6-10% of base salaries for 2011/12, the highest estimate of the four sectors surveyed.

“Bonus schemes within the financial services sector are often heavily scrutinised. Our survey found that 29% of financial services employers do not expect to pay year-end bonuses, with a further 15% still uncertain of their plans for the 2011/12 bonus round. Of those financial services institutions expecting to pay bonuses for 2011/12, the highest number (37%) predict they will be modest (1-5% of base salaries). Only 2% expect to pay significant bonuses of 26% of base salaries or higher. It is likely that these larger payments will be distributed to the more senior professionals within the financial services sector. 

“A monthly decrease in the number of professional jobs is quite typical for this time of year, as many firms begin to wind down their hiring activities moving into the festive season. The recent increase in the number of contract and temporary roles coming onto the market may have also affected the Irish Employment Monitor, which tracks Ireland’s permanent professional jobs market. Temporary contracts are flexible and cost-effective and are therefore popular recruitment options during holiday periods or times of financial uncertainty. The increase in demand for temporary workers experienced this month may have been diluted somewhat given the lack of clarity around the recent Agency Workers Directive.

“There was a slight increase month-on-month in the number of professionals newly active in the Irish jobs market in November 11. It is possible that some professionals felt that November might be their last chance to make a career move in 2011, before hiring activity slows considerably in December. Some job seekers may even be registering their interest early to increase their chances of finding a secure position for the New Year. Employers are being very specific about the candidates they invite to interview; an exact match to the job specification is a minimum requirement in most cases. This can often protract the process, a trend that is likely to continue into early 2012.”

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Chart 1 – All respondents: Will your company be paying year-end bonuses?


Chart 2 – Breakdown by market: What percentage of base salaries do you anticipate year-end bonuses will be?


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About the Morgan McKinley Irish Employment Monitor

The Morgan McKinley Irish Employment Monitor (previously known as the Premier Group Irish Employment Monitor) measures the pulse of the Irish professional jobs market by tracking the number of new job vacancies and new candidates within the Republic of Ireland each month. The first Premier Group Irish Employment Monitor was launched in May 2009 with data from April 2008 onwards.

Statistical methodology

Monthly new jobs and new candidates

Monthly new jobs and new candidate figures are based on Morgan McKinley's own monthly records of new permanent job vacancies and new candidates registering with the firm for permanent employment. Statistics for the full market are derived using Morgan McKinley’s own market share.

Job classification

Job vacancies are professional level roles within the following sectors and functions:banking & financial services, commerce & industry finance, insurance, public practice & tax, legal, HR, IT, life sciences, engineering, process & manufacturing, professional services, sales & marketing, customer service, secretarial & office support.


The data is based on new job vacancies and new candidates registered with the Morgan McKinley Group’s network of Irish offices in Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford.

About Morgan McKinley in Ireland

Morgan McKinley is an Irish-owned global professional recruitment consultancy connecting specialist talent with leading employers across multiple industries and disciplines.

With offices across Ireland, the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, its professional recruitment expertise spans the accounting and finance, financial services, technical and IT sectors. Morgan McKinley is a preferred supplier to many of the major employers in its specialist sectors and thousands of smaller local firms.

From October 6th 2010 Premier, Brunel and Verkom the specialist recruitment divisions of Premier Group in Ireland are called Morgan McKinley. Nothing else has changed. We are the same people, the same Irish company delivering the same recruitment service.

Morgan McKinley London Employment Monitor

Morgan McKinley currently publishes a similar Employment Monitor in London. It was launched in 2004 and reports on the new roles, candidates and salaries within the financial services jobs market in London each month.

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