Are bonuses a waste of money?

Agony uncle and University of Westminster's visiting professor of PR Trevor Morris gives it to you straight.

Trevor Morris: PRWeek's agony uncle
Trevor Morris: PRWeek's agony uncle

For the past few years I’ve paid my most valuable people a £1,000 bonus. However, those who get it seem to take it for granted and those who don’t sometimes sulk. What can I do?

There are social norms and there are market norms. Salary and financial bonuses are part of market norms. You work, you get paid. You work extra hard or extra well, you get paid a bit more. The relationship is purely transactional.

You don’t give your other half cash for having been a wonderful partner during the preceding year: you give them a lovely present. If you want to make someone feel special try giving them a wonderful present – a weekend away or tickets to a special event. Presents are personal and memorable, bonuses are not.

Got a problem? Contact Trevor at

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