Work and compensation for work are the two core aspects of commerce that allow capitalism to endure. When someone accepts an offer of employment, the employer pays an agreed-upon wage in return for labor provided by the employee. This all seems fairly straightforward, but hiring is rarely this simple.


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Although earning a wage is a good enough reason to work for many, employers have found that providing additional benefits, including sign-on bonuses, is necessary to stay competitive in the modern economy. A sign-on bonus is compensation that is provided in addition to a worker’s wage, and it is usually offered as an additional incentive to attract specific talent, although some employers may offer a sign-on bonus to all new employees for various reasons.

What Industries Offer Sign-On Bonus Jobs?

In the past, sign-on bonuses were typically reserved for industries that were either short on workers or that were highly competitive for top talent. Engineering, major league sports and even the military have utilized sign-on bonuses to lure in talent, and this approach has been used on and off throughout the years.

The military is a special case when it comes to bonus provisions as America’s military needs change at the behest of geo-political forces. During times of peace, military jobs with a sign-on bonus may be hard to come by, but during wartime or when it seems that conflict is brewing on the horizon, military branches may change policies to offer more jobs with bonuses.

What’s A Standard Sign-On Bonus Policy?

While there is no standard sign-on bonus, standard sign-on bonus policies usually include a few common elements. First and foremost, any hiring bonus that is provided generally comes with requirements placed upon the worker receiving the bonus. These requirements often include a commitment to work for the employer through a specific period of time lest the bonus be forfeited.

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Next, sign-on bonus guidelines generally include how the bonus is to be paid out or divided up. These guidelines spell out whether the payment is provided as a one-time lump sum or benefit or whether the bonus will be dispersed over the course of time. If a monetary bonus is broken up into payments, these guidelines will list when the payments will be made as well as how the total will be divided.

Why Are Jobs With Bonuses So Popular Now?

Sign-on bonuses have always been popular, but in a tight job market, they can sometimes be the difference between landing the right talent and not. This is particularly true when a candidate is comparing two similar offers. The addition of a sign-on bonus may be the tipping point that nudges the candidate in one direction or another.

Additionally, many industries have seen unprecedented shakeups in the past few years in the wake of Covid-19. Dubbed “The Great Resignation”, employees have either left their jobs entirely in search of new work or have refused to retake positions that were lost during the pandemic.

This has led to a reorganization of America’s labor force, with many workers either eyeing new industries or venturing out on their own. The result of this has been that employers are pressed to attract talent when more and more opportunities seem to be present. A sign-on bonus can be an attractive benefit when asking someone who isn’t necessarily committed to traditional full-time employment to change their plans or divert their current course.

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Non-Monetary Hiring Bonus Incentives On The Rise As Well

While the majority of sign-on bonus incentives are financial in nature, non-monetary bonuses are also being provided by employers. These types of bonuses are sometimes used in place of monetary incentives, but by and large, they are used in conjunction with financial compensation.

Some companies, including Jefferies Financial Group, have decided to sweeten sign-on bonus incentives by providing the opportunity to receive a Peloton bike, Apple products and other non-monetary luxury goods. Other employers, like SevenRooms, have begun offering the first two weeks of a new hire’s contract as paid time off.

What this seems to demonstrate is that even if financial incentives are not in the cards, the key to bringing in people during a time of need is to find ways to step out ahead of the competition. If a candidate is comparing two similar job offers from two attractive companies, providing some type of sign-on bonus may just be the thing that helps land a talented new worker.

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