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Bonus structure at Gensler

Aug 23 '13 10 Last Comment
AnotherNyer
Aug 23, 13 6:31 pm

Does anyone have experience with the bonus plan as part of Gensler's total compensation program? I was offered a job there and with the bonusesincluded, the compensation will exceed my current one. However, Gensler's base salary is slightly lower. Is it crazy to consider this?

Does Gensler have a track record of paying the quoted bonus amount or could you end up with a low base salary and lower than anticipated bonus too? Does it differ from office to office?  Thanks!

 

quizzical
Aug 23, 13 10:15 pm

While I don't have specific personal knowledge of Gensler's track record with respect to bonuses, the type of structure you outline is one of "shared risk" -- some of your compensation is deferred until such time as the company actually books the profits needed to pay your bonus. In exchange for a lower base salary, you have the potential to earn considerably higher total annual pay. You take some risk in the short term - you stand to earn more over the course of a year. This is a fairly common approach in our profession.

I do know a number of people who work in one of Gensler's regional offices -- my general impression of Gensler is that -- year-in, year-out -- their people do rather well from a pay standpoint. I expect you will be treated rather well there as long as you hold up your end of the bargain.

VON LEE
Aug 26, 13 12:53 am

fudge gensler. 

med.
Aug 26, 13 1:55 pm

The December bonus is always 1 paycheck and the size of the big June bonus always depends on how the company/studio/office is doing financially.

Keep in mind they are taxed like crazy - the way bonuses are usually taxed.  So if you are in for a 5k June bonus don't expect anywhere near that when all is said and done.

curtkram
Aug 26, 13 4:34 pm

why fudge them?  and why censor yourself?

observant
Aug 26, 13 6:03 pm

I'm personally not crazy about this system.  I worked in-house for a developer-builder (fewer prima donnas, but more jocks with CM degrees) and, when the bonus check rolled in, on top of a decent compensation scheme, it was nice.  However, they are not going to open up their books to the staff, and it's on the(ir) honor system, or lack thereof.  Then, they started peeling back.  I didn't see any slowing down in business to indicate there was less profit available.  Nor did people talk about how much they made.  So, it was a good experience, because I got to learn a lot about construction operations, estimating, and practical things like that.

The comment about how the bonus is taxed may or may not be off-base.  If it comes as a big stand-alone check or as an add-on to your regular check, then of course it will have more taxes deducted.  However, assume the bonus is $5K and you make, say, $65K.  Whether you make $70K in a year, or the $65K + $5K in a year, provided all the checks are dated between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, your tax liability for the year, assuming all else is held constant, remains the same.  It just means you'll get a slightly higher refund, or owe slightly less, when you file your taxes, because of those heavier deductions on the bonus check.  If the check comes after Jan 1, then it's part of next year's tax conundrum.

At any rate, you don't have to answer this.  However, consider if it's a huge drop in base pay or not, and how it would affect you in a "dry" year, AND whether you're at a bohemian firm and really think this is an opportunity to work for a more corporate firm, if that's what you think you want and need.

med.
Aug 28, 13 10:16 am

When Gensler makes an offer be aware that it is an "estimate" that factors overtime and the bonuses.  So the compensation might seem competitive.  But in reality the base pay is usually pretty underwhelming.

In terms of quality of work, firm culture, resources, and people its pretty fabulous.  I've never seen so many legit BIM experts.

Atom
Aug 28, 13 3:52 pm

I don't know about giant corporations but in general, for a business owner in this field, cash flow can be erratic. Checks come in giant sums at uneven intervals and on occasion late from private clients. Sometimes the business owners have to get loans for payroll and in rare circumstances put up their homes as collateral. That could happen when, as observant mentions, there isn't "any slowing down in business to indicate there was less profit available." It is the nature of cash flow in this field meaning the fiscal year can balance as profitable but any given quarter could fall short. The payroll loans carry interest and the business would rather pay you less to even out the swings and avoid the interest. 

As an employee maybe that bonus money is looked at as past due. In the bonus system the employee doesn't get interest on the money due. I wonder what that unpaid interest amounts to. Was a $5,000 bonus mentioned? The employee ends up using a credit card or already has an outstanding debt with an interest rate. $5,000 at 13% (assuming a lot of things like the bonus due at day 1)  the bonus is paid 12 months from now and the interest on the bonus is $359.04. I gather you could spin this around and look at it with better calculations. 

thisisnotmyname
Aug 28, 13 3:55 pm

Working at Gensler is definitely something you should do if given the opportunity.  The chances of you getting something of value (experience, training, contacts, etc.) out of your time there is very high.  The initial salary offer they give you is usually not their best and final.  From what I can tell, it's pretty customary for them to negotiate.

med.
Aug 29, 13 12:47 pm

yeah ask them for more money and they could very well meet you half-way at least.

AnotherNyer
Sep 2, 13 11:19 am

ok, I'm going to do it and worst-case scenario (no bonus) it is basically a lateral move for better experience. thanks for all of your thoughtful insight everyone!

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