3 Tips for Scoring Your Holiday Bonus

Maybe the early bird gets the worm, but she who documents most, wins. As December creeps closer, now is the time to get your game plan together for asking about that end-of-year bonus you so richly deserve. Don't expect it to just fall into your lap because your bosses appreciate you and your work — know how to ask.

Keeping quiet about bonuses could cost you up to $1,800, and that's just the average across industries. It's also a huge increase from 2016, when the average holiday bonus was just under $1,100. More companies plan on offering end-of-year bonuses too — more than 4 in 10 hiring managers told researchers at Accounting Principals that they planned to give out bonuses of $1,000 or more.

It's best not to assume this applies to your employer, though, or even that a bonus will come in the form of money. Some companies are offering charitable donations in lieu of cash, according to Moneyish, or access to increased employee benefits. Just 63 percent of hiring managers expected to give out bonuses at all. But there's a handy workaround for that: Just ask.

Research, research, research

Any adjustment in valuable requires evidence, so gather all the paper you can that shows what your actual work is really worth. That includes industry-average salaries from resources like Glassdoor, but also thorough documentation of your own accomplishments, how you've grown as an employee, how you've shepherded projects, and anything else that demonstrates your worth to the company and its bottom line.

Bodies in the room

Don't let the whole conversation happen over email or Slack. Drop by your manager's office and make your ask in person. You're less likely to get lost in the shuffle if you communicate with your supervisors face to face.

Advocate for yourself

Haggling (or negotiating) over the scope of your bonus isn't overly aggressive or ungrateful. Do be reasonable, given what your employer is able to offer, but don't leave money on the table when it accurately rewards what you've done and could keep doing.