Holiday Season Delivers A Mixed Bag of Holiday Cheer and A Tepid Job Market to Global Executives

By Kornferry International, PRNE
Thursday, December 15, 2011

LOS ANGELES, December 16, 2011 -

Holiday parties, gift giving and a time of cheer are sledding into a snow ball of low job satisfaction and bonus anxiety at global organizations this holiday season, according to an executive survey by Korn/Ferry International (NYSE: KFY), a premier global provider of talent management solutions. 

According to the survey, 55 percent of executives are attending their office holiday party, up four percent from last year and up 14 percent from two years ago.  Despite a still tenuous economic environment, holiday parties have bounced back from the Great Recession, as organizations look to corporate festiveness to increase morale amid challenging market conditions.

Fifty-six percent of executives surveyed say they look forward to the company holiday party and 34 percent make it when they can, while only 10 percent do not attend or have little interest.

Holiday spending expectations also remain high this year.  The survey shows that nearly 60 percent of executives plan on spending $100 or more on all business-related gifts this season, with nearly half of that group expecting to spend more than $300.  Only 28 percent say that they will spend less than $50 this season. 

“Organizations and employees have come to grips with the ‘new normal’ business environment,” said Mike Distefano, Korn/Ferry senior vice president and chief marketing officer.  “In the midst of this prolonged tenuous economic environment, companies are embracing opportunities to increase morale and express appreciation to their colleagues for what they have accomplished during these challenging times.”

Bonus Expectations Mild, Demands High

While spending increases on business-related gifts, bonus expectations are mild.  Fifty-one percent of executives say they anticipate bonuses that are the same bonus level as last year and 12 percent expect bonuses somewhat less than last year.  Only 4 percent expect a bonus significantly less than last year.

And if expectations are not met, employers may see a lump of coal in their stockings.  A resounding 43 percent of executives said they would leave or consider leaving their employer if they were not satisfied with their bonus. 

When asked to clarify their expectations, of those executives receiving a bonus this year, 51 percent said they expect to receive bonus compensation that is 25 percent or more of their base salary.  Twenty-six percent of those surveyed expect a bonus in the range of 15 to 24 percent of their base salary and 23 percent expect a bonus of one to 14 percent of their base salary.  

Low Job Satisfaction, Labor Market Uncertainty 

Rating their level of job satisfaction heading into the new year, an emphatic 40 percent of executives said they were not satisfied, while 60 percent were either somewhat satisfied or extremely satisfied.

Executives are mixed when it comes to evaluating the prospects for hiring in North America and Europe in the coming year.  While 39 percent foresee increased hiring from 2011, 24 percent envision less hiring than 2011.  Twenty-five percent of respondents expect the same hiring as this year, while only four percent see robust hiring.  

Executives also do not see eye to eye on what role the political landscape will play for jobs in 2012.  While 44 percent say the 2012 U.S. election will have a positive impact on the labor market, an equally adamant 40 percent of executives indicate that the election will have little to no impact.  Sixteen percent of those surveyed say the election will have a negative impact.  

The Korn/Ferry Institute Executive Quiz survey is based on a global survey of executives registered within the firm’s online Executive Center, Respondents from more than 60 countries, representing a wide spectrum of industries and functional areas, participated in the most recent Executive Survey in November and December 2011.

About The Korn/Ferry Institute
The Korn/Ferry Institute generates forward-thinking research and viewpoints that illuminate how talent advances business strategy. Since its founding in 2008, the institute has published scores of articles, studies and books that explore global best practices in organizational leadership and human capital development. For more information, visit

About Korn/Ferry International

Korn/Ferry International, with a presence throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is a premier global provider of talent management solutions. Based in Los Angeles, the firm delivers an array of solutions that help clients to attract, deploy, develop and reward their talent. Visit for more information on the Korn/Ferry International family of companies, and for thought leadership, intellectual property and research.

Nicole Roberts, +1-310-226-2619, nicole.roberts at

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