Multilingual Business Communication

April 9, 2009

Here, have a bonus…just don’t forget to give it back!

Filed under: employee communication, Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren — Tags: , , , , , , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 5:42 pm


 Before the recent economic crisis hit, additional bonuses for top employees of big companies were an everyday occurrence. However, now that the economic landscape has changed drastically, their existence has come under great criticism. The recent debate was initiated by AIG’s spending of 165 million dollars on bonuses, while having just received a financial injection of 170 billion dollars from the U.S. government. This incident not only rightfully raised questions in the U.S., but also triggered a wave of protest in countries such as The Netherlands, France and Sweden.


Companies are more and more pressured by their governments and by the public to do away with such excessive spendings. Especially since the companies that are awarding expensive bonuses are often simultaneously firing employees and having a difficult time to survive altogether. Because of all these complications, it seems a new trend has set sail: asking employees to give back earned bonuses. It first happened in the U.S., where already 15 out of 20 AIG employees promised to reimburse their royal payments. Soon companies such as ING asked their top employees to do the same. Granted the immorality of awarding excessive bonuses, questions can be raised considering the way in which this problem is currently being dealt with. Should it really be possible for companies to ask their employees to give back the money they offered them more than a year ago in some cases? And just how far should employers be allowed to take this new initiative?



Gerlinde Van Hauwermeiren



“Topmanagers AIG geven bonus terug”. Metro 25 March 2009, p.7.

“ING vraagt bonussen over 2008 terug aan 1.200 toplui”. De Morgen 24 March 2009, p.27.

“Nederland wil exuberante bonussen aanpakken”. Metro 24 March 2009, p.6.  (photo)


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