5 Ways to Earn a Bonus

Demonstrate your value to your employer by staying positive and volunteering for new tasks.
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Toward the end of 2016, many employees eagerly awaited their holiday bonuses. And, according to the predictions of a recent survey by recruiting company Accounting Principals, they likely weren't disappointed.

Related: Does the Year-End Bonus Still Motivate Your Team?

The survey found that 75 percent of HR and hiring managers surveyed reported that their companies planned to give employees bonuses in 2016, a figure that was up, from 67 percent in 2015. The bonuses looked to be larger, as well, with companies surveyed saying that they planned to give employees an average award of $1,081.

So, if you're an employee, how can you be sure you’re one of those bonus recipients next time 'round? Here are the top five ways to increase your chances of getting a bonus each year.

1. Stay motivated.

In the survey, 54 percent of HR and hiring managers said that staying more motivated throughout the year could increase the likelihood of a holiday bonus. One way to do this is by reflecting on your most recent annual review. Specifically, think about whether or not you improved on the items that needed improvement and whether you excelled in other work tasks.

How are you, as an employee, tracking toward the goals you set following that review? Perhaps you haven't hit them yet. Work with your manager to help get yourself on a path to achieve those goals and create new challenges.

Another way to remain engaged is by creating new projects for yourself or finding small motivators in your day-to-day to-do list.

2. Don’t be negative.

Nothing is worse than having to work around negativity. Negative attitudes can drain productivity and severely decrease motivation. That is why it is incredibly important to maintain a positive attitude, especially since 45 percent of HR and hiring managers in the survey said that staying positive and upbeat could increase the likelihood of a holiday bonus.

Having a positive attitude helps in many ways. First, you eventually begin to feel positive, which helps you stay motivated and productive. Second, others notice. Positive people encourage others to follow their example, and a good manager will take steps to retain an enthusiastic and optimistic person with, for instance, a well-deserved bonus.

To help get yourself into a positive mindset, make adjustments to your day-to-day activities. If there is an aspect of your daily to-do list that you dislike, cross that off your list first thing in the morning. By completing that task first, you won't be dreading it for the rest of the day, giving you more of a positive attitude. 

3. Volunteer for new responsibilities.

Employees make themselves more valuable to a company when they volunteer to take on additional responsibilities. If you’re not sure where to start, speak with your manager and see what tasks you can assist with to lighten his or her workload.

By raising your hand to do more work, you’re setting yourself up to potentially receive additional training that you otherwise might not have received. This not only benefits your professional development, but also gives you the opportunity to shine as a team player, which your boss will appreciate.

Related: Reality Check: Not Everyone Deserves a Bonus

According to the Accounting Principles survey, 34 percent of HR and hiring manages said that, at their companies, volunteering to take on additional job duties could increase the chances of getting a bonus.

4. Advocate for yourself.

Twenty-three percent of HR and hiring managers in the survey said that reminding the company of your accomplishments can increase your chances of getting a holiday bonus. So, don’t be afraid to be your own biggest advocate.

As you work with your manager to determine goals for the coming year, remind him or her of the goals you’ve already achieved and the challenges you’ve overcome over the past year. Not only will this help demonstrate that you’re worth the bonus, it will also help you feel motivated and positive for the coming months.

5. Ask!

If you’re feeling brave, you can go one step further to increase your chance of getting a bonus. Use your accomplishments from 2016 to demonstrate you are worthy of such an award, and ask your manager if bonuses are something management is doing this year and if those bonuses are performance-based.

From there, you’ll be able to use your motivation, positive attitude and past achievements to showcase your value to the company and ask for the bonus or raise that you feel you deserve. While bonus policies vary among organizations, 15 percent of HR and hiring managers said that asking the boss for a bonus directly could increase the likelihood of getting one.

Related: 5 Bonuses Employees Love No Matter What the Time of Year

Whether it is a bonus, raise or additional vacation days, more opportunities for companies to show their appreciation for employees are cropping up out there. By staying motivated and positive, volunteering to take on additional work and tracking your accomplishments, you are positioning yourself for future recognition within the company. So, while it's still early in the year, it's never too early to demonstrate your value.