Spring Bonuses Waste of Money, Don't Affect Loyalty, Survey Says

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 07, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Say you're an indentured servant at a big corporate law firm. You bill thousands of hours a year. You sleep under your desk when necessary. You miss your girlfriend's birthday party because a deal is going through.

Do you think you'll be more loyal to your firm if they gave you a spring bonus?

Well, apparently you wouldn't, you ungrateful employee! Spring bonuses actually do nothing for employee loyalty, according to a recent survey of midlevel associates.

People love money, right? Well, apparently that's what many BigLaw firms thought.

About 40 firms took the spring bonus plunge, according to the ABA Journal. Sullivan & Cromwell started the year off with a decision to pay out bonuses ranging from $2,500 to $20,000.

Apparently, their payout was in vain if the survey is to be believed.

Why is it that money seems to have no impact on loyalty for associates?

Is it because most associates are already swimming in more money (and debt) than they can handle? Piling on more cash maybe just seems like filling an already-full glass of water.

Associates probably need something besides monetary compensation to have real firm loyalty. How about some alternative ways to generate loyalty?

Firms could lower billable hour requirement, for one. There are few people who would dare turn down an offer of working fewer hours for the same amount of money.

And, an offer of some free time over an offer of spring bonuses might be the rejuvenating force that associates need. Associates who bill less could actually have time to have fun and socialize! It might do wonders to a firm's productivity and for associates' happiness levels. And happy associates are loyal associates.

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