i Editor's Letter: The trouble with bonuses


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The trouble with bonuses is they have lost their meaning as a special reward for services "above and beyond". They have become a way to reward staff without paying the "add-on" employment costs more salary might require, or to obscure the amount of an employee's total package.

It's relatively easy to calculate bonuses based on financial performance, although it is difficult in my eyes to specify bonuses based on solo rather than team performances. It's harder still to quantify the damage caused by the blind pursuit of profit in search of a personal bonus.

Anger over bankers' and CEOs' bonuses stems from both their size and the fact they appear to be paid regardless of performance. Concern over transport workers' bonuses for the Games stems less from size, more from a sense they are going about their normal jobs, particularly in the case of bus drivers. A me-too bonus, if you like. Now, there is a clamour for troops to get a bonus too. Whatever happened to overtime?

As for Jeremy Clarkson and other BBC "stars" (p17)? Anger, such as it exists beyond that manufactured by newspapers, is again mostly down to sheer size. Clarkson's £3.5m headline figure dazzles. You may know that I've never seen Top Gear, so I'm ill-qualified to discuss his presentational skills, but I have sat in meetings where newspaper executives lament that other journalists are not as 'monetisable' as JC. Clarkson's views on cars are a revenue-generating mini-industry beyond mere extra ad sales. That almost unique position is clearly worthy of a bonus. But more than a Brucie?