Bonuses at all-time highNews added by Benefits Pro on June 20, 2014

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Dan Cook

Been waiting to ask the folks in the C-Suite to sweeten the bonus packages you offer employees? Now is apparently the time to make the request.

A survey conducted by the nonprofit association WorldatWork found that the major categories of bonuses are all being deployed more than ever before by corporate America.

The study, Bonus Programs and Practices, compared the use of sign-on, spot and retention bonuses, and particularly when contrasted to 2010 results, the upsurge in all three was notable. Referral bonuses, while not at all-time highs, are also increasingly common, the study said.

“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, leading to an increased focus on attracting and retaining employees,” said Rose Stanley, WorldatWork total rewards practice leader. “In addition, with continually small incremental increases in merit budgets, spot bonuses may be a means to recognize talent for special excellence during the year.”

Survey highlights included:
  • More organizations are offering sign-on bonuses and paying them at higher rates, with executives receiving the greatest amount (41 percent receive more than $50,000);
  • The average number of bonus programs offered by organizations is three — up from 2010's average of two programs;
  • Spot bonuses are most commonly given for special recognition (90 percent), going above and beyond (85 percent) and project completion (72 percent);
  • Most employee groups are eligible to receive retention bonuses; clerical employees are the least likely but still eligible at 49 percent of participating organizations;
  • The number of spot bonuses awarded in the past 12 months has stayed about the same for 67 percent of organizations, with almost a quarter showing an increase.
“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.”

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