Why You May Get 'Scrooged' Out of a Holiday Bonus This Year Credit: Dreamstime.com

Employees expecting a year-end bonus might be disappointed this holiday season, new research suggests.

A study conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. found that 43 percent of companies aren't awarding year-end bonuses, perks or gifts this year. That number is up from just 28 percent of companies that weren't in the giving mood in 2007.

John A. Challenger, the company' s chief executive officer, points to several reasons for the shift, including the continued turbulent economic conditions.

"Some companies may have found that year-end bonuses are not the morale booster they once were and that there are more effective ways to reward high performers, while increasing the morale and loyalty of all employees," Challenger said. "In many companies, year-round efforts may have replaced the end-of-the-year gesture."

Of the businesses that are handing out holiday bonuses, more than half said they give their staff either a nonmonetary gift or a cash gift of $100 or less.

Nearly 20 percent said they give bonuses only to selected employees based on individual performance, but nearly a third reported giving each employee a bonus based on the company's overall performance that year.

Those employees receiving a cash reward shouldn't expect more money than last year; 75 percent of the businesses that will award monetary bonuses say this year's will be about the same as 2010. Eight percent are planning a reduction, while less than 20 percent of those surveyed said their companies were planning to increase the bonuses this time around.

"The vast majority of employers are small, most with fewer than 100 workers on their payrolls," Challenger said. "Many of these companies do not have the funds to award extravagant year-end bonuses."

Despite not being able to pass out large cash bonuses, most employers do understand the importance of rewarding employees for their contributions to the company, Challenger said.

"It doesn’t have to be a Wall Street-sized bonus check," he said.  "Many (workers) would probably be happy with an extra day or two of paid vacation at the end of the year."

The research was based on surveys of 100 human resources executives.