Update Feb 2016: Get lots of requests on Chinese New Year bonus, 6 years later I wrote a much more detailed and professional post on my business blog: How Much Bonus Should I Pay on Chinese New Year?, check it out!
Again, I am reminded how little I know about the Chinese culture. I try to be observant, ask around what other companies are doing. But really, I barely scraped the surface in trying to understand the culture, the thought process of how it works…
Of course, like everyone in the world – money is important. But in China, money is even more important……
So today is the last day the office is open, and (I believe, anyway) everyone is anxiously awaiting their “red envelopes”, to see how much bonus they will be paid. Of course its not a requirement of any company to pay, but like in USA, its like year end bonus the company pays out to the staff.
I never wanted to be the one responsible for deciding this. I’m just a stupid white guy, how can I affect the culture. How much is normal. how much is spent for family gifts, what is the cost?
Really, I thought (maybe I was crazy), but by this time I would have a “china expert” manager who would advise me how much to pay, what days vacations are, and other staff / HR type things. Seems I have been ineffective in finding this…..
My other weakness, is I want to keep everyone happy. Except myself. My admin, Jojo, keeps reminding me that I need to take care of myself first, and then others. But really, I always thought the opposite….take care of others first and they will take care of you later , when you are in need. I think in China that is looked at as weakness. I need to be more direct, more definitive.
And I don’t want to underpay, for 2 reasons – (1) I want to reward people for working hard, and (2) I don’t want the company to look weak financially.
And its like a 2nd Christmas to me. I am not a fan of holidays….too much distraction and downtime.