4 employee bonus programs that work wonders

ManagementEmployee bonus programs have regained their luster, and if you don’t offer any, you might reconsider.

A survey by WorldatWork  found that the popularity of employee bonus programs, which had been steadily falling, is now at an all-time high.

The four most popular incentives are sign-on bonuses, spot bonuses, referral bonuses and retention bonuses.

“The uptick in sign-on and retention bonus programs may indicate that the war for key talent could be heating up as the economy improves,” said WorldatWork’s Rose M. Stanley. “With small increases in merit budgets, spot bonuses may be a means to recognize talent for special excellence during the year.”

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Key survey findings

  • More organizations are offering sign-on bonuses and paying them at higher rates, with executives getting the most (ya think!).
  • The average number of bonus programs per employer has gone from 2 to 3.
  • Referral bonuses, once the most popular, and now second.

“Organizations are using their money in very strategic ways,” Stanley said. “Even though referral bonuses are still very important, it appears that organizations are focusing their strategies on attraction, retention and recognition through spot bonuses.

“Employers are using the sign-on and retention bonuses to attract and retain the talent that they need. They are targeting spot bonuses as an additional means to recognize employees that are excelling when other forms of cash compensation have been restricted.”

Spot bonuses are most commonly given for: special recognition (90%), “going above and beyond” (85%) and project completion (72%).

Nearly all organizations reported that employees below upper management are eligible for spot bonuses.

Also, most employee groups are eligible to receive retention bonuses; clerical employees are the least likely but still eligible at 49%.

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