clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

$20K bonus to Suns employees is huge gesture, but left some good people out

Phoenix Suns Introduce Kevin Durant Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

In a $6 million parting gift from the former owner of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury basketball teams, new billionaire Robert Sarver has authorized a one-time bonus of $20,000 to every full time employee of the organization who’d been employed by the organization at least one year.

Staff was notified via email from new owner Mat Ishbia, titled “Great News to Share”, prompting a wave of whoops and hollers up and down the corridors of the facilities at Footprint Center. Staff were ecstatic, another sign that the good times are starting to roll.

Those $20,000 payments will be deposited into the bank accounts of some 250-300 employees today via direct deposit.

Can you imagine? How great would that be, to see a free 20k just suddenly appear in your checking account (yes I know how taxes work, folks)? It’s incredible! Most of these staffers don’t make huge money. They make ‘regular’ money. So 20K is probably the largest bonus they have seen in their lifetime.

Kudos to the ownership, both old and new, for making this happen. What a gesture!

I know a great number of people on the basketball side, every one of them tireless and wholly dedicated to the success of the teams, and I’m so glad they get a little more of what they deserve. (almost) No one on earth makes as much money as they deserve. When’s the last time you heard someone say ‘they pay me too much money’. So this hits the mark, through and through.

I do have to mention that the devil is, at least a little bit, in the details. Not everyone in the building yesterday was happy. In fact, I have heard that several were openly crying. And tensions got to the point that bonus recipients were guarded in their elation, whispering congrats to each other.

The rules of the bonus are that you have to be a full-time employee and have to have been there at least one year (hired prior to February 15, 2022).

I get it. You have to have limits. Requiring one year of employment ensures you’re not rewarding a short-timer. Sarver specifically wanted to reward folks who’d been dedicated to the team for a while. Employers often require at least a year of employment before making new employees eligible for things like bonuses and promotions. Makes sense.

Sure, it sucks if you were signed on in March 2022 or later, and you barely missed out. But them’s the breaks. You know why? Because you were never promised a 20K payout in less than a year anyway. So you’ve lost nothing. It stings to see coworkers get a bonus that you didn’t, but you understand it.

The big ‘miss’, to me, is that the part-time, hourly workers were left out completely. Many of them multi-year staffers.

Oh I know, on the surface, that seems logical. Hourly workers don’t get benefits, don’t get bonuses. That’s the nature of hourly work.

But for teams like the Suns and Mercury, many many — likely approaching a hundred — staffers are considered hourly and/or part-time because they work the events as they happen. When the team is at home, work hours are long and arduous. But when the team is on the road, there’s little work and little paycheck. Over the course of a year, these folks work every bit of 2,000 hours like an FTE would — it’s just steady every-week-the-same-hours work.

Many have been with the organization for years, working side by side with full timers as equal parts of the team.

Yet, none of the hourlies get that bonus (or even a prorated portion of it based on hours worked).

But they got the email. They got to read the title “Great News to Share”. They got to see the promise of $20,000. They got to read how Robert wanted to say one last thank you to everyone for all their hard work over the years. And they got to read the qualifiers.

Hundreds of people experienced the thrill of a lifetime yesterday, but some of their just-as-dedicated coworkers got a gut punch instead. It’s hard to read in black and white that you’re still not one of the “all” you thought you were. In some areas, vibes were bad. Tears were spilled.

I’m not sharing this to poo-poo the gesture. That’s HUGE to give a bonus to dedicated staff as a parting gift! I know many of those full time employees and I’m elated for them.

In the end, the problem was the message. It sounded all-inclusive. It sounded appreciative of everyone who got the email, that everyone who works for the Suns is part of the same team and deserve the same kudos for their hard work. Except they’re not.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bright Side of the Sun Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Phoenix Suns news from Bright Side of the Sun