Bonus checks may be a little bigger this year, a Robert Half survey suggests. Thirty percent of executives whose companies awarded bonuses last year said they plan to give higher bonuses this time around. Human resources (HR) managers were most optimistic about increasing bonus levels in 2011 (42 percent), followed by technology executives, at 25 percent. Only 14 percent of those interviewed expected smaller bonuses than last year.

The survey was developed by Robert Half International and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,250 senior executives throughout the United States who indicated their firms offered employee bonuses last year. The respondents included chief financial officers, chief information officers, senior HR managers, lawyers, and advertising and marketing executives.

Executives whose companies gave bonuses last year were asked, “Do you anticipate that year-end employee bonuses this year will be higher, lower or unchanged from those awarded last year?” Their responses:

Higher Lower No Change Don’t Know/

No Answer

Total 30% 14% 53% 3%
Human Resources 42% 10% 43% 5%
Technology 25% 18% 53% 4%
Accounting & Finance 21% 17% 60% 2%
Advertising & Marketing 19% 13% 53% 15%
Legal 12% 4% 73% 11%

“For many companies, higher bonuses are in recognition of work by employees who put in extra effort this year, often with fewer resources,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of Motivating Employees for Dummies® (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). “Bonuses also are tied to staff retention — professionals with high-demand skill sets may have other employment opportunities in the current job market.”

Note:  For additional information on employee compensation, including starting salary projections for the coming year, visit

About Robert Half International

Founded in 1948, Robert Half International, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, is a recognized leader in professional staffing services. The company’s specialized staffing divisions include Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance; OfficeTeam, for highly skilled temporary administrative support personnel; Robert Half Technology, for information technology professionals; Robert Half Legal, for legal personnel; and The Creative Group, for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. Robert Half International has staffing operations in more than 350 locations worldwide. Find more information at, and follow us on Twitter at

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