Microsoft Gives Employees $1,500 Bonus for Braving the COVID-19 Pandemic

For a total of approximately $200 million

Tech giant Microsoft is giving employees a one-time $1,500 bonus for surviving the “unique and challenging” circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, reports GeekWire. Microsoft employees below the corporate vice president level who started on or before March 31, 2020 are eligible for the bonus, including part-time and hourly workers. Though owned by Microsoft, employees of LinkedIn, GitHub and ZeniMax employees are not eligible.

Microsoft has more than 175,500 employees in the U.S. and abroad. About 130,000 of those employees are eligible for the bonus. The Verge calculated the bonus to be approximately $200 million. This is just a fraction of the $15.5 billion in net income the company reported for its third quarter of fiscal year 2021 for the period ended March 31, 2021.

“As a symbol of our appreciation for coming together as One Microsoft during a uniquely challenging year, we are proud to recognize our employees with a one-time monetary gift,” a Microsoft spokesperson told GeekWire.

Microsoft embraces a flexible workplace

Kathleen Hogan, executive vice president and chief people officer at Microsoft, shared the news with employees via email. Hogan also posts to the Official Microsoft Blog, sharing other employment related news. For example, in October 2020, Hogan shared the company’s philosophy on embracing a flexible workplace in the wake of the pandemic.

“Flexibility can mean different things to each of us, and we recognize there is no one-size-fits-all solution given the variety of roles, work requirements and business needs we have at Microsoft. To address this, we have provided guidance to employees to make informed decisions around scenarios that could include changes to their work site, work location, and/or work hours once offices are open without any COVID-19 restrictions,” Hogan wrote.

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  • Though on-site work will be required for some employees, other roles can be done part-time from home with appropriate approvals and assignment alignment.
  • Work hours will be flexible, subject to manager approval.
  • Physical work location may vary by role.

“Our guidance is to help employees plan ahead for the future. For now, returning to many of our offices around the world is still optional for employees, except for essential onsite roles. While we’ve shared that we will challenge long-held assumptions and seek to be on the forefront of what is possible leveraging technology, we have also communicated that we are not committing to having every employee work from anywhere, as we believe there is value in employees being together in the workplace,” wrote Hogan. “We will continue to evolve our approach to flexibility over time as we learn more.”

Pandemic bonuses from other subscription and membership-based employers

Microsoft is not the first company, nor will it be the last, to offer a bonus in the wake of the pandemic. Here are a few other notable companies who’ve paid bonuses to their employees who have been impacted by the pandemic:

Facebook: Last March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his 45,000 employees that they would each receive their six-month bonuses plus $1,000 bonus to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the employees’ use of the money was not restricted to a specific purpose, Zuckerberg said some employees had additional expenses in setting up their home offices, managing childcare and caring for their families.

Amazon: In November, Amazon said it would spend over $500 million in one-time bonuses for front-line employees in the U.S. who worked between December 1 and 31. Full-time operations staff would get bonuses of $300, while part-time staff would get $150 bonuses, said Reuters. The company also paid one-time bonuses to front-line workers in June 2020.

Walmart: In 2020, Walmart paid out several rounds of bonuses to employees including over $700 million to its U.S. based associates between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Approximately 1.5 million full- and part-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associations were eligible for the cash bonuses. This brings Walmart's total bonuses paid to associates in 2020 to $2.8 billion.

“As we come to a close on this historic year, I’m filled with gratitude for how our associates have led through one of the most trying periods for our company and country. Our associates have stepped up to serve our customers, communities and each other when it was truly needed most, and we’re pleased to recognize their efforts with a quarterly bonus for strong store performance and a fourth special cash bonus,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S.

Insider Take

This is just a small sampling of the number of companies and workers that have received bonuses, flexible hours, leave and other considerations throughout the pandemic. Though there is finally light at the end of the tunnel, some workers, families and companies are having a harder time bouncing back than others. It is good to see those who did well during the pandemic rewarding the workers who helped make their success possible.