Samsung Joins Rivals in Offering Huge Bonuses to Fight Tech Brain Drain

Samsung Austin
(Image credit: Samsung)

The chip wars are in full effect as technology giants from around the globe jockey to assert their dominance in an expanding market. The insatiable demand for chips in everything from smartphones to computers to graphics cards to automobiles to refrigerators is straining the output of chipmakers. Companies, in turn, are using the fat profits they’ve accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic to retain top talent. Such is the case with Samsung, which is going above and beyond to retain its existing workforce and court fresh talent.

According to a new report from Nikkei, Samsung dished out 11 months’ worth of salary as a bonus to its employees to combat a shortage of qualified engineers. The 11-month total includes a two-month bonus paid out in December 2021 and an additional three-month “service bonus” in January 2022. Further adding to the financial windfall for Samsung employees is a bonus equal to half a year’s salary, linked to profit sharing. 

To put those bonuses in perspective, Korea Exchange reports that the average salary of Samsung’s nearly 110,000-strong South Korean workforce is around $106,000 (as of December 2020). When you factor in the 11-month bonus, employees are looking at yearly compensation of roughly $203,000. The total compensation only increases from there, considering that Samsung covers the cost of [on-campus] meals for employees and school tuition for qualified children.

Samsung manufactures scores of chips, including the SoCs found in its Galaxy smartphones, Ampere GPUs that power the best graphics cards for gaming like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series, DRAM for your PC, and NAND fueling the best SSDs. However, Samsung isn’t the only company willing to throw cash at employees to prevent brain drain. Amazon recently revealed that it would more than double the maximum pay for its tech and corporate employees from $160,000 a year to $350,000.

“This past year has seen a particularly competitive labor market and in doing a thorough analysis of various options, weighing the economics of our business and the need to remain competitive for attracting and retaining top talent, we decided to make meaningfully bigger increases to our compensation levels than we do in a typical year,” said Amazon in an internal post that was verified by GeekWire.

Amazon’s hand was forced on the salary bump, as the pandemic has only increased the frequency of poaching from rival tech firms like Google and Microsoft. Late last year, Intel announced its plan to boost employee compensation by $2 billion as the job market heats up. Intel’s most significant presence in the United States is in Oregon, where its employees have an average annual salary of $150,000.

“These updates are designed to enable Intel to win the fierce battle for talent in today’s competitive market while strengthening our execution,” Intel explained back in December. “These plans include, but are not limited to, updates to our salary structure, increases to our global merit budget, differentiated bonuses for top performers, increased stock targets, and more frequent vesting for restricted stock units.”

Intel recently announced that it would invest around $20 billion in Ohio to construct two chip fabs in New Albany. The company plans to employ as many as 3,000 workers with an average annual salary of $135,000. The New Albany location also means that Intel is primely positioned to pick fresh apples right off the tree in the form of new graduates from nearby Ohio State University.

Brandon Hill is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware. He has written about PC and Mac tech since the late 1990s with bylines at AnandTech, DailyTech, and Hot Hardware. When he is not consuming copious amounts of tech news, he can be found enjoying the NC mountains or the beach with his wife and two sons.