December is the month that many companies hold annual employee performance reviews.
Built into these reviews is an employee expectation that a positive performance review will result in some sort of pay increase or raise. Often, owners have a set amount of money which they have discretion to allocate based on the performance review.
If you search Google for “annual performance review and raise” you’ll notice that the top 9/10 results all focus on helping employees ask for a raise. Only one article talks about how performance reviews and raises shouldn’t be linked.