With high inflation, stock market downturns, and looming fears of a recession, some companies are cutting costs, including limiting bonuses and raises, and at a time when U.S. workers desperately want more money in their pockets.

In December, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,250 U.S. workers to learn about their expectations when it comes to being compensated for their work this year.

We found the majority not only feel entitled to a raise by the beginning of next year, but many also believe their company should be obligated to give a holiday gift or bonus.

Key findings:

  • 50% of workers say companies should always give a holiday gift
  • 20% of workers are likely to quit if year end bonus falls short of expectations; 44% likely to reduce efforts
  • 83% feel entitled to a raise by January 2023; one-third want at least a 10% raise

50% of workers expect an end of year gift

When it comes to a company’s obligation to give a gift, 50% of workers say a holiday gift should always be given, while 48% say it depends. Only 2% say a gift should never be given.

For most workers receiving a holiday gift is important; 36% say it’s ‘very important’ and 33% ‘important.’ Only 8% say it’s unimportant, while 23% had no opinion.

When it comes to the holiday gift they receive, in order of preference, workers want:

  1. Cash bonus
  2. Gift card
  3. Non-cash gift
  4. Company swag

In terms of the monetary value of their holiday gift, the plurality of employees (44%) say it should be between $101-$500; 23% say the value should be between $501-$1,000, 11% say between $1,001-$5,000, 3% say between $5,001-$10,000, and 2% say the value of the gift should be more than $10,000.

When asked how likely it is that they will receive a holiday gift or bonus, 33% say ‘very likely’ and 29% ‘likely.’

Stacie Haller, Chief Career Advisor at ResumeBuilder.com, notes that workers at companies that have typically given bonuses will expect one this year as well.

“Workers who have historically received a holiday bonus will expect one of the same or more value this year,” says Haller.

“It may be a part of their planned compensation, and if it’s taken away, companies can expect many of their workers to respond negatively.”

1 in 5 are likely to quit if holiday gift falls short of expectations

Of the 62% of employees who believe it’s likely they’ll receive a gift, the plurality expect the value to be equivalent to $101-$500.

Additionally, 21% are expecting something worth between $501-$1,000, 13% between $1,001-$5,000, 3% between $5,001-$10,000, and 2% over 10,000+. Only 21% think the gift will be worth less than $100.

If workers don’t get what they are expecting, many will react negatively.

If their holiday gift or bonus is lower in value than expected, 44% of workers will reduce the amount of effort they are putting into their work. Notably, 73% say they currently go above and beyond at work, while 25% say they currently only do just what’s required of them, and 1% do less than what’s expected.

More than a third say they will likely start a job search if the year end gift doesn’t meet their expectations, while 20% will take an even stronger action, saying it’s likely they will quit their job.

Haller suggests that the reason workers may have these more serious reactions to not receiving a bonus is because they are already unhappy.

“It’s unlikely that an employee is going to quit or start a job search solely based on not receiving an anticipated gift or bonus alone. However, it may very well be the last straw for some employees, and a reflection of the larger pattern of companies cutting benefits and changes in the workplace.”

8 in 10 workers feel entitled to a raise by January 2023

The majority of workers (72%) have received a raise within the past year. However, 36% only received a 1-3% raise, and 31% a 5% raise.

This may be why overall 83% of workers feel entitled to a raise by 2023, half of whom think they should receive at least a 7.5% raise.

If workers don’t get an increase in compensation they are also likely to start looking for a new job (40%), reduce the amount of effort they are putting into their work (38%), or quit (23%).

“It’s unfortunately true that for many workers the only way to get a meaningful salary increase is to leave and start a new position,” says Haller.

“The market is still candidate based, and most companies in many sectors are hiring. Workers feel empowered and believe, and rightly so, that more lucrative positions are out there for them.”


All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish on December 1, 2022. In total, 1,250 U.S. workers, 18 and older were surveyed.

Appropriate respondents were found via Pollfish’s demographic tools. To take this survey respondents employment status had to be employed for wages.

Pollfish uses Random Device Engagement (RDE), which is both random and organic. This survey uses a convenience sampling method. You can learn more about how Pollfish’s methodology works here.

For more information contact [email protected].