CEO Survey: Bonuses Will Take A Hit In 2023

After persevering through Covid, companies doled out large bonuses to thank their employees while growth was hot in 2021 and 2022. That’s changing now, our research finds.

According to data from our CEO & Senior Executive Compensation Report for Private U.S. Companies, 2021 bonus payouts were historically high—especially following the Covid cutbacks. Bonuses 2022 followed suit for many, as growth out of the pandemic continued. Will 2023 fit the trend? Preliminary data says no.

A recent poll of 333 CEOs in the U.S., conducted January 10-12 by Chief Executive, finds bonuses among almost every class of worker are likely to dwindle in 2023, a sudden shift from recent trends. Compared to 2022, smaller proportions of workers in all seniority levels are projected to see bonus increases, with companies instead opting to keep the payout unchanged or even decreased.

The survey is part of ongoing compensation research by Chief Executive Group, which includes our annual CEO and Senior Executive Compensation report, the largest survey of its kind conduced in the United States. It includes pay information from more than 1,800 U.S. companies. Learn more about our compensation benchmarking research >

Salary raises are also expected to stall this year, our research finds, but 2023 bonuses will fall even more. Some 20 percent of senior executives (not CEOs) are projected to see a weaker bonus this year, compared to only 7 percent who saw their bonus fall in 2022. Similarly, only 15 percent are projected to see an increase in their bonus of 5 percent or more, compared to 27 percent who earned the extra bonus last year. 

Middle managers, front-line and back-office employees are likely to be the most disappointed—the proportion of those job categories receiving a bonus increase of at least 5 percent is projected to fall by more than half, down from 32 percent in 2022 to a projected 14 percent in 2023, across both levels.  

As for CEOs, just 9 percent of companies reported a decrease in bonus for their CEO in 2022. When polled this month, 24 percent report a projected bonus drop. The already-small proportion of CEOs who received at least a 5 percent boost to their bonus is projected to shrink from 21 percent last year to 12 percent this year.   

Click here for more information and additional breakdowns by industry, size, EBITDA, region and more.


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