Should you wait for your year-end bonus before seeking a new role?

Author: Valerie Zhang
Posting date: 15/12/2020
Year-end bonus

To show their gratitude, companies will often reward their employees with a generous bonus at the end of each year. After a year of working tirelessly, receiving a bonus can be both encouraging and reassuring. In Asia, the year-end bonus is highly valued, and it can even determine your approach to job hunting during the new year. For professionals across the region, the year-end bonus is their motivation to work conscientiously and this mean they will often delay any plans to seek new job opportunities until they receive their bonus. However, is it right to hold off on furthering your career in the long-term just to receive a short-term financial reward? Here, we look at how bonus culture varies across countries in the Asia Pacific region, and why life science professionals should always be open to new opportunities.

How much is the average year-end bonus?

Asia is the world’s fastest growing market for pharmaceutical products and medical devices. This surge in the life sciences is continuing to create an abundance of job opportunities, making it easy for professionals to change positions if they want to further their career. With competition from other companies a threat, many companies in APAC markets offer an attractive bonus package to attract and retain talent.

In China, bonuses vary from company to company and often depends on the level of seniority. Year-end bonuses often range from around 8% (one month’s salary) to 35% (around four months’ salary) of an employee’s salary.

In Japan, transparent rewards are provided by most companies. Good relationships with colleagues mean there is often no privacy when it comes to bonuses. Bonuses are usually decided by the individual's length of service and seniority. They will usually depend on the profitability of company, rather than personal performance.

Across the countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea, the average salary increment is around 15% to 20%. With regards to South East Asian countries, the increment tends to be much higher, ranging from 30% to 35%. Bonuses are usually one month equivalent, or two to three months for senior management roles.

When are bonuses usually paid? 

Across Asia, bonuses are typically paid out in December and April.

In China, most life science companies tend to pay out bonus after Chinese New Year which overlaps their fiscal year end. The principle is employees will need to be with the business on 31st December, which literally means there wouldn’t be any bonus entitlement, should you leave the business before the year ends.

The Japanese bonus system is fairly unique and includes semi-annual bonuses in June, year-end bonus in December. In addition, many Japanese companies pay a bonus in April, not to the employees themselves, but to their wives, known as a “wife bonus”. This stems from a tradition to aid the household, rather than the individual, and recognise the contribution and support a spouse provides in a worker’s life and work. 

What happens if you change roles before receiving the year-end bonus?

Moving into a new role can often mean missing out on a year-end bonus. However, this is not always the case, and it’s important to know what type of bonus you are entitled to before you make any decisions.

In China, if you announce your leaving the company, your line manager and HR department will decide if you are entitled to a bonus or not. They will factor in a few variables – your performance, your relationship with your manager, company policies and HR’s advice. To stand a good chance of being entitled to a bonus, it’s important you communicate your intentions to leave clearly and are considerate for how it might impact your team and the wider company. 

If you choose to take a new job opportunity in Japan before collecting your bonus, your new company may be able to compensate you by offering a sign-on bonus to offset what you would be walking away from, and this can be negotiable. 

In other instances, companies may consider buying out the candidate’s notice period. However, there will be a commitment clause (for example, six months or one year) that the individual would have to fulfil within the new company, otherwise they would have to pay back the buy-out amount.

Should I hold off looking for a new role until I receive my bonus?

Receiving a bonus for your efforts can make you feel appreciated and valued within your company. Sometimes being gifted with a generous bonus can temporarily make you forget the reasons you are thinking of leaving in the first place. However, once the novelty of a bonus has worn off, the feelings and reasons you had for wanting to leave are likely to reemerge to the surface. Putting off looking for a new role, can hold up your career progression and may mean you miss out on unique opportunities. 

It’s important to always be open to job opportunities that may arise. Whilst they may not be as financially rewarding in the short-term, they may be more beneficial to your career and wealth in the long run. 

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