Company directors have seen their bonuses fall by 23% to just under £50,000 over the past year, according to a study by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR.
The number of directors being paid a bonus had also fallen, although the average is still worth around 14.5% of salary.
The report suggested firms might be re-evaluating their approach to pay.
Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, said: "For most directors, this year has seen payouts reduced, putting the brakes on the gap between top bosses and managers at other levels of our businesses.
"Many employees will hope that this marks the start of a new approach to bonuses and a move to share the benefits of growth more widely as the economy picks up."
The report added that most companies are having problems recruiting staff, often complaining about the cost and procedures involved.
Labour are calling for George Osborne to prevent the Royal Back of Scotland giving bumper bonuses worth more than salary levels to senior staff members.
Royal Bank of Scotland, 81% owned by the taxpayer, is expected to invoke a clause in the new EU rules on bankers bonuses whereby any bonus worth twice the level of annual salary can only be awarded with shareholder approval, The Financial Times reports.
As Chancellor, Mr Osborne is effectively the heavily lossmaking bank's main shareholder.
Bankers could face a cap on their bonuses as early as next year after EU representatives reached the first agreement of its kind to curb pay in the financial sector.
The provisional agreement, announced after late-night talks between EU officials, would see bonuses capped at one full years' salary, but can rise to two years' pay with the permission of shareholders.
The cap is part of wider controls that will force banks to create larger cash buffers against future shocks.
But it represents a setback for the British government, which has long tried to protect its large financial sector from absolute limits on bonuses.
More than 10% of shareholder votes went against HSBC's pay report at its annual meeting today. It comes after the banking giant's boss paid himself £7.5 million in pay and bonuses last year.
The intensity of criticism for the company's renumeration policies was down from 2010 when nearly 19% of shareholder voted against the pay report.
HSBC's chairman Douglas Flint appeared to defend the bank's high rewards, saying: "We continued to develop a truly meritocratic culture because as international competition for the best talent intensifies, we need to ensure that HSBC is making the most of the skills and abilities of our people."