A “Bonus” entry for Working Thoughts

Certain terms lose their meaning depending on how they are applied. I mention this in another post about “Talent” called Using the Term “Talent.” But sometimes a term means one thing to one group of people and another thing to another group of people. I remember when I was 15 years old, my friends and I had what we believed to be a clever language where certain words were really code for something else. It worked just fine and no one knew or cared otherwise.

“Bonus” is now somewhere in the realm of losing its meaning as well as meaning something different depending on the context. The assumed meaning is that it is a reward for a job well done and the company is prospering. But in many finance based companies, a bonus is just a form of variable pay. It isn’t a matter of if, but how much? Ultimately, it communicates to the employee where he or she stands with the company.

I was like many other people and outraged by the recent bonus news, but it is wrong to paint everyone at these different companies with a broad brush. And if you want these companies to truly recover then you have to retain the best workers. This has gotten out of hand of course, but bonuses to some employees are warranted.

Another similar situation is how Banks are abandoning their golf tournament naming rights because of the backlash. These are contracts already paid. So someone assigned the cost of bad publicity to be more than what was paid for the naming rights. This lost advertising opportunity hurts many parties – local sign companies, caterers, car service companies, and tent rental companies, just to name a few.

All this is because people see a headline and look no further. The sensationalism of the news is creating a shallow understanding of what is really happening and its impacts. It doesn’t seem like the story is being told with any genuine intention of informing the public. It is like it’s own language.


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