Recruiting Incentives – When Should You Consider Hiring Bonuses

Recruiting Incentives – When Should You Consider Hiring Bonuses

Remaining competitive as a business requires more than just careful budgeting and a keen eye for marketing and industry trends.  Leaders also need to keep one finger on the pulse of the needs and desires of the workforce to help them hire people who are assets to the team.  In order to make a business the best that it can be, owners need to attract and retain quality talent.

This may be easier said than done, especially in today’s low unemployment environment, but it isn’t impossible.  When considering recruiting incentives, it’s important to understand that, just as the company is interviewing the applicant, the applicant is also interviewing the company.  The same way that the company wouldn’t want to invest in someone who is going to jump to a competitor a year down the line, prospective employees don’t want to invest their effort into a business that doesn’t value their contribution. Here, we’ll discuss the most important recruiting and hiring incentives to today’s employees, as well as when and how to use those incentives to strengthen the business — and the workforce.

What Do Ideal Candidates Value? 

In order to attract the best talent for the job, it is best to get some insight into what an ideal employee is looking for in an employer.  While this can vary from group to group, there are a few priorities that appear relatively consistent across industries.

The number one thing that job-seekers desire from an employer, according to research from GlassDoor, is the potential for growth.  The most common reason employees quit is a lack of upward mobility, so building in the potential to climb the ranks is crucial to keeping up morale and retaining the talent that is so hard to attract.

Second to room for advancement, prospective employees are looking for a sense of security in the form of good health benefits and retirement packages (a 401(k) is common, but there are other options).  Helping employees maintain their health and build a stable retirement communicates that the company values them, not just for what they bring to your team, but as individuals and human beings.  Employees who are taken care of tend to take better care of their companies in return.

Finally, potential employees desire a position that allows them the flexibility to enjoy a full life outside of their work.  This need can be met by offering flexible scheduling, the opportunity to work some hours remotely, or other strategies, but the intent behind them remains the same:  giving employees some freedom fosters a culture of trust and mutual respect.

What Opportunities Are Currently Offered?

Perhaps the company has a bulletproof health plan, or maybe it offers an outstanding 401(k) package.  Perhaps the business allows employees to work some of their hours remotely, or maybe there is an equity package with some positions.  It’s entirely possible at least one of these things are already being done, but are those benefits publicized?

All the effort in the world to incentivize people won’t make a difference if they aren’t aware of the incentives.  In order to attract the interest qualified talent, be open about the benefits of working for your company in particular.  What makes a position with the company the best choice for the employee and their future?  Why should they choose to work with you?  Make a concerted effort to get the word out about the opportunities already offered before worrying about expanding or revamping the incentive program.

Other Incentives:  Hiring or Signing Bonuses

Hiring bonuses can make an excellent incentive to attract talent, but they aren’t right for all situations.  While signing bonuses can be very effective at attracting the right people, they tend to be paid on a case-by-case basis, which can cause tension if the details of the bonus are brought to the attention of current employees.  To keep morale high with long-term employees, it might be a good idea to implement a retention bonus (or similar program) for existing workers alongside a signing bonus program.

A close cousin of the signing bonus is the oft-ignored recruiting bonus, also known as an employee referral program.  This is a payment made to an existing employee for referring a successful new hire.  For these bonuses to be most effective, there should be some requirements to determine the success of the referral before the bonus is paid (working for a set length of time, meeting certain standards, sustaining growth over a certain period, etc.) to ensure that the referral is a good fit with the company — rewarding bad hires does no one any good.

This bonus structure is interesting for two reasons:  first, it fosters a sense of trust in existing employees to refer good people that they — and everyone — will work well with.  Second, it rewards existing employees while attracting new talent in a different way that focuses more on interpersonal relationships than on a dollar amount.


There are many different ways to make a company more attractive to top talent, from competitive benefits packages to flexible scheduling to employee referral programs.  A customized strategy to suit both the business and the desired talent is needed.  Raise awareness of existing benefits, then consider how new policies might make the company more competitive.

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