Hiring incentives sign on bonus

How to Use Hiring Incentives to Attract Top Applicants (With Examples)

In today’s job market, attracting top talent can be difficult. Because of this, many companies are offering appealing hiring incentives like sign-on bonuses, extra PTO, remote work options, and more to get high-quality candidates to apply or accept a position.

When you offer recruiting incentives, you’ll differentiate your job offer and convince great talent to join your team. If you’re considering this strategy but aren’t sure how to incentivize employees, the following tips will give you a good start to implementing your own hiring incentives.


Top candidate file


Why Should You Include Hiring Incentives?

Incentives can sometimes be a tough sell if you’re not already using them, but there are multiple benefits to hiring and employee incentive programs. Creating a strong incentive program and advertising it in the hiring process can help attract more qualified applicants, while lowering the chance that they will “ghost” you during the interview process.

Incentives can also increase current employee productivity and morale. Employee recognition programs and incentives make for happier employees, and if you were to implement a referral bonus program, your current employees would be more motivated to share current job openings with friends. A positive review from a friend carries a lot of weight when an applicant is looking for a job.

If you’re worried about the cost of hiring incentives, consider this: Missing out on top talent because they were wooed by another, similar position with incentives could cost you more in the long term. For example, it may take longer to fill positions, which means you’ll expend more costs to find the right hire.


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Sample Hiring Incentives

So, what are some good hiring incentives to implement? It will ultimately depend on your work culture but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Sign-on Bonus Perhaps the most popular and easiest to understand benefit for an applicant is a sign-on bonus. You can offer the full amount at the time of hiring, but many sign-on bonuses are contingent on the new hire working for several months before the bonus is paid. This can give you more time to decide if the hire is a good fit. Alternatively, you can put it in the form of a “loan” that has to be repaid if they leave before a certain amount of time.
  • Remote Work – According to iHire's 2021 State of Online Recruiting Report, there is no shortage of “work-from-home” interest from job seekers. If possible, offering full-time remote work or a hybrid model can be a great incentive for applicants. You might also take this perk one step further and provide employees with a stipend to cover home internet and office costs.
  • Extra PTO – Everyone needs a break every now and then, and knowing that your company provides a generous PTO plan can turn an applicant’s decision in your favor. To sweeten the deal, you can offer extra vacation days as a type of sign-on bonus instead of (or in addition to) a monetary bonus.
  • Generous Maternity/Paternity Leave – In the same vein as extra PTO, longer paid maternity and paternity leave can be a deciding factor for some applicants. This can be true even if they’re not planning on starting a family right away; just the knowledge that the company cares and will support them is a big plus. Offering to partially cover the costs of childcare can be huge, too.
  • Flexible Hours – This can involve accommodating different start times or allowing employees to take longer breaks during the day to take care of personal items. Flexible hours can be a good way to show you’re willing to work with an applicant to find a schedule that fits both your needs.
  • Tuition Reimbursement – Most top applicants are still interested in continuing their education or professional development. Offering a tuition reimbursement program shows you are committed to helping them achieve their goals. Many programs offer to cover one or two courses a semester, and then require the employee to continue working at the company for a time afterward.
  • Referral programs – Referral programs are like a sign-on bonus for current employees, and can provide you with some great applicants who might not have applied without a referral from a friend. Like a regular sign-on bonus, you can stipulate that the employee must work at the company for a set amount of time before the bonus is paid.
  • Fitness programs or gym reimbursement – Offering a small amount of money per month to cover a gym membership can be an attractive offer for some applicants, especially if you are in a fitness or health field.


How to Determine Fair Hiring Incentives

To begin creating your incentives, a good place to start is by researching what other companies in your industry are offering for similar positions. If possible, you should at least meet or exceed their offerings.

Another way to determine the monetary value of something like a sign-on bonus is to treat it as a percentage of the position’s monthly pay. For example, if you were to offer a 25% sign-on bonus for someone making $2,000 a month (~$12 an hour), that would be $500.

If you can’t match a competitor’s sign-on bonus, a mix of different incentives can also be persuasive. A smaller sign-on bonus but more PTO may be more attractive to applicants thinking long term.


Employee benefits on computer


When, Where, and How to Mention Hiring Incentives

Knowing when and how to mention hiring incentives will depend on your hiring goals. If you’re looking to attract a lot of applicants, putting the big incentives like a sign-on bonus in the job posting or on your website is a solid strategy. If you’re struggling to keep applicants interested in the position, consider creating a brochure outlining your incentives and company benefits and presenting it to high-quality candidates after they interview successfully. You can include information on your total compensation package there as well as an extra incentive.

Hiring and employee incentives can be a great way to attract top talent to your job opening. If you use this article as a guide on how to incentivize your employees, you’ll be in a great position the next time you’re interviewing.

By Doug Atkinson | August 13, 2021