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2023-01-18 09:28:06

China’s white-collar workers received a smaller holiday bonus this year, a survey showed, dampening the celebratory spirits for the upcoming Lunar New Year.

The average amount of the year-end bonus, typically handed out before the Lunar New Year holiday each year, for white-collar workers dropped by 17.6% from 2021, with many of them pocketing only 8,248 yuan ($1,218), according to a survey released by online recruitment platform Zhilian Zhaopin on Tuesday. Only 26.9% of the undisclosed number of respondents said they were certain they would receive the perk this year, compared with 27.6% in 2020.

Bonuses received by male employees were one-fourth more than their female counterparts on average, the report said, adding that the pay gap was shrinking. Workers in cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou received the highest bonus amount, though none of the cities were highly ranked in terms of job satisfaction.

The drop in bonuses and other benefits this year indicates that many private companies could be cutting costs due to the operational challenges caused by the pandemic. The strategy, known as jiangbenzengxiao in Chinese, is being widely adopted, especially by major internet companies that have laid off thousands of employees amid a weak economy and regulatory measures.

A Beijing resident surnamed Liu told Sixth Tone that her company had scrapped the year-end bonus, which was equivalent to three months’ wages, without giving a specific reason. Nevertheless, she felt lucky not to be laid off and that her salary remained unchanged.

“It dealt another blow to my personal financial difficulties,” Liu said, adding that she had negative income in 2022 after a failed mutual fund investment.

The reduction in perks grabbed public attention in recent weeks after domestic media reported a department at internet company Baidu had canceled its annual bonus for all employees amid a new round of layoffs. The move came after its founder Robin Li commented on the excessive expenses at the company, calling out cash-burning practices without considering returns.

Tuesday’s report showed only 76% of respondents had received their bonus for 2022, compared with 98% in 2021. Instead, companies handed out more shopping and travel vouchers with consumption gradually picking up.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Shijue/VCG)