Every employee reaches the point where they want to ask their manager for a well-deserved bonus. You’ve brought in thousands this year, went above and beyond your job description and targets and spent endless hours working overtime to ensure all the extra projects you were given ran smoothly. But how do you go about asking for a bonus? Talking about money is never easy, and at times not appropriate. Yet to ensure you get what you deserve you need to muster up the courage and talk about your earnings.
What should you include in your bonus request letter? Follow this in-depth guide to find out tips and tricks and more importantly how to format your bonus request letter to ensure you get the financial appreciation that you deserve.
The Structure of a Bonus Request Letter
As with any formal letter in the workplace, you need to abide by some formatting rules, in order to to ensure that it's readable and professional.
Your letter should comprise the following structure:
- Sender’s Address: Start by typing your address at the top right-hand corner of the page. In American English, the sender's address can sometimes be found in the top left corner.
- Date: Leave a few lines and then write the date below the letterhead – skip this part if your request is via email.
- Subject: If you’re sending your letter via email you may be contemplating over the subject. There’s no need to be extravagant here - you can simply write “bonus request”.
- On-Arrival Notices (optional): If you want to include a notation that the letter is personal, you can do. Ensure that it’s written in uppercase. E.g. PERSONAL or CONFIDENTIAL.
- Inside Address: Your company’s address should be written a few lines below the above- again if it’s via email, skip this step.
- Salutation: As this is a formal letter make sure you address the reader appropriately – even if you're pals with the boss. You could open with ‘Dear Jane’ or ‘Dear Ms Smith’.
- Opening Paragraph: Start your letter with the reason for your request and the amount of bonus you think you are entitled to.
- Body: Give solid facts and reasons as to why you deserve the bonus. This could include unpaid overtime, an impressive sales record, or a stellar yearly performance; alternatively, maybe you simply didn’t receive your annual bonus when your co-workers did.
- Final Paragraph: Finish your letter by sharing your gratitude and appreciation for the company, just to ensure it ends on a positive note and does not come across as a demand, but rather a question. It doesn’t harm to ask, right?
- Closing: Avoid closing with a simple ‘thanks’ and instead choose a more professional ending such as ‘Kind regards’ or ‘Yours sincerely’.
- Your Name and Signature: A letter isn’t complete without your name and signature. If you’re handing in a printed letter, opt for a hand-written signature. If you’re sending an email, simply type your name, followed by your contact information.
Tips to Follow to Ask for a Bonus
When it comes to talking to your manager about a sensitive topic like pay, you should always be cautious. Follow the below tips to ensure you’re taking the correct measures when approaching this tricky subject:
- Speak to Your Boss First: If you have a good relationship with your boss, approach this topic in person first (you can take your letter with you if you like). Make sure that your tone is subtle, leave the negativity at home and focus on your hard-work and achievements - ideally with a few specific examples to hand. It’s always good to ask for more responsibilities at this time, too, to show that you are dedicated to the company.
- Play it Cool: It’s important not to rely on your bonus as part of your needed income as it’s not a guarantee; avoid telling your manager how you were depending on this money. Remain cool and collected throughout the conversation. If your request is rejected – ask what you can do to get a bonus the next time around.
- Don’t be Pushy: As mentioned above, keep in mind that you are asking for a bonus; not demanding one. If you are too insisting; you may get your bosses back up when it comes to the next round of bonus payouts.
Whether it’s for a general sense of appreciation, or because you have a specific reason (such as spending many hours working overtime on a successful project), we’ve put together a few different templates that you can use when requesting a bonus:
Things to Remember
Asking your boss for more money is tricky ground, with many people feeling the risk isn't worth the reward; indeed, that's why so few people attempt to claim bonuses even though their work has merited one.
It’s important to value yourself as an employee, though. Here are a few key points to remember:
- Copy in the HR Department: Remember to copy in the HR department as they will need to hold a copy for your personal records. They may also be able to assist with your request as they often are the decision makers.
- Review Before You Send: Be sure to proofread your application before you send it to your employer. You wouldn’t want it going to your boss with typos. It’s also useful if you read your letter out loud to make sure your key points are crystal clear.
- Wait an Appropriate Amount of Time: If you haven’t heard back straight away, don’t fret! Give it some time for the decision makers to deliberate before they get back to you.
- If the Answer Is No: Be open to other benefits like holiday or flexible working hours. If that is rejected, just use it as motivation to improve for the following year and make sure your name is on the bonus.
- If the Answer Is Yes: Congratulations! But beware - bonuses are given for the year ahead to make sure you stick with the company. If you want continuous success you will need to make sure that you keep working at it.
Have you ever written a bonus request letter and would like to share your example with the rest of us? Let us know in the comment section below…