Employee Retention Bonus: What It Is and How to Implement One

Learn about employee retention bonuses in blue-collar industries, how they can save on hiring costs, and best practices for implementation.

Desiree Grosman
October 17, 2023

Workers in hard hats and reflective vests gather on a construction site, tools in hand, ready for another day of hard labor. But as the foreman looks around, he notices a few familiar faces missing. This is a scene all too common in blue-collar industries these days. And that's why the concept of an employee retention bonus is gaining traction.  

The cost of recruiting new talent is skyrocketing, and the revolving door of hiring is both exhausting and expensive. Instead of spending all that money on constantly finding and training new employees, why not invest in keeping the ones you have? Below we'll dive into what an employee retention bonus is, why it's important, and how to implement one in your business.

What is an Employee Retention Bonus?

An employee retention bonus is a financial incentive specifically designed to reward employees for their loyalty and continued service within a company. Unlike regular bonuses that might be tied to performance metrics or seasonal celebrations, this bonus focuses solely on keeping the talent you've trained and invested in.

Nearly 60% of companies are using employee retention bonuses as a way to reduce the high turnover and recruitment costs plaguing many industries today.

This bonus is a company's way of saying, "We value you. We want you to stay."

How Much is a Retention Bonus?

Many employers wonder how much is a typical retention bonus. It's entirely up to the employer, but many companies are offering bonuses equivalent to 10-15% of an employee's annual salary.

Here are a few things to consider when determining the retention bonus amount:

  • The industry and type of work involved
  • The level of skills and experience an employee brings to the table
  • The cost of recruiting and training new employees in your specific field
  • How much competitors are offering as retention bonuses

Basically, you want to make sure your bonus is enough to catch your employees' attention and make them feel valued, without breaking the bank.

If you're already having to dish out money to recruit and train new employees, it might seem counterintuitive to spend even more. But consider this: according to the Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost per hire is $4,129. But there are many hidden costs of employee turnover that can add significantly to that number.

That's why offering an employee retention bonus can actually save you money in the long run. Plus, it shows your employees that you value them and are willing to invest in their loyalty.

When is a Retention Bonus Paid?

The timing of a retention bonus can vary depending on your company and its specific situation. Some businesses choose to give the entire amount upfront, while others break it up into smaller payments over a set period. Many companies also choose to tie the retention bonus to a specific time period, like after one year of employment or at the end of a certain project. This gives employees an incentive to stick with your company for a set amount of time.

What would motivate your employees? How can you structure the employee retention payments in a way that makes sense for your business? You'll have to consider the unique needs and goals of your company and employees in order to determine the best timing for a retention bonus to be paid.

Should You Offer a Retention Bonus?

It's clear that employee retention bonuses can be a powerful tool in keeping your best employees from jumping ship. But should you offer one?

In blue-collar industries where the labor shortage is hitting hard, offering a retention bonus can set you apart from competitors and show potential hires that you value your employees. It's also a way to reward loyal employees who have stuck with you through tough times. Many companies offer employee retention bonuses:

  • During times of economic uncertainty when employees may feel insecure in their jobs
  • When they're facing potential layoffs or seasonal slowdowns and want to retain top talent
  • As an incentive for employees to stay through a specific project or busy season
  • As a long-term retention strategy for valuable employees who are difficult to replace

We have to note that there isn't any clear data on whether retention bonuses actually work. Some employees may see it as a quick cash grab before moving on to another job, rather than truly valuing the company and their position.

That's why it's important to combine retention bonuses with other employee retention strategies. This could include things like:

Offering an employee retention bonus should be part of a well-rounded approach to keeping your employees happy and motivated.

→ More staff retention strategies & examples

How to Implement an Employee Retention Bonus

With just 39 job seekers for every 100 open positions, the labor shortage is hitting hard. Implementing an employee retention bonus can bolster your current staff retention strategies and attract new employees at the same time. But how do you get started?

Here are some retention bonus best practices to make sure your investment is an effective one:

  1. Determine the Bonus Amount: Consider factors like the employee's role, industry standards, and your company's financial capacity. Even a modest bonus could make a difference.
  2. Set Clear Criteria: Define what milestones qualify for the bonus. Is it based on length of employment, job performance, or other factors?
  3. Communicate Clearly: Inform your team about the bonus, its purpose, and how they can earn it. Get them excited about it and make sure they understand what's expected of them.
  4. Track and Manage: Use tools like Team Engine to monitor who's nearing their bonus milestones. Automated reminders can encourage employees to stay on track.
  5. Review and Adjust: Assess the effectiveness of your retention bonus. If you're not seeing the results you want, consider tweaking the criteria or amount. Text message surveys are a great way to gather feedback from your team and involve them in the process.

Navigating the Labor Shortage with Team Engine

The right employee retention bonus can make a big difference in this tight labor market, but it's just one piece of the puzzle. Team Engine is a software solution specifically designed to help deskless industries improve their recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes.

With our platform, you can automate manual tasks, streamline communication with candidates and employees, and track important data to make informed decisions.

Don't let the labor shortage hold your business back. Invest in retention strategies, like offering a bonus, and let Team Engine handle the rest. Grab your risk-free trial today to experience how Team Engine can help you build and retain a strong team.

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