Staff at a US property firm were brought to tears after a “life-changing” surprise bonus gifted each an average of $50,000 (£38,000).

All 198 employees at S. John Properties were given a share of $10 million (£7.6 million) after hitting their target of developing 20 million square feet of office, retail and warehouse space worth $3.5 billion (£2.7 billion).

Staff reacted to the news with great surprise. Credit: St John Properties

The Maryland-based firm calculated each employee's bonus based on their years of service and revealed each person’s figure at their Christmas party on Saturday.

Edward St John, company founder and chair, made the announcement to staff and said: “To celebrate the achievement of our goal, we wanted to reward our employees in a big way that would make a significant impact on their lives.

“I am thankful for every one of our employees, for their hard work and dedication.

"I couldn’t think of a better way to show it.”

The figures received are 'life-changing'. Credit: St John Properties

The goal of developing 20 million square feet was set in 2005, when the company had 10 million square feet of space.

Over a 14-year period, the company came through a recession and grew from a five-state footprint to the eight states in which it currently operates.