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.