Number of job ads offering a bonus doubles

Business owners desperate to fill job vacancies reach for signing bonuses as way to attract staff

The number of jobs being advertised offering a signing bonus has more than doubled since the start of last year.

The increased use of bonuses, either one-off or performance-related, has grown to 16 per cent of jobs advertised as employers become desperate to recruit.

The percentage of recruitment advertisements offering bonuses rose from 13.6 per cent, or 90,345, at the beginning of 2021 to 16 per cent, or 190,333, this month, according to figures from Adzuna.

>See also: Should you pay your staff bonuses?

The rise in bonuses was widespread across sectors, according to Paul Lewis, chief customer officer at the job search engine. Retail, IT, and customer service roles had all seen “notable” proportional increases in jobs advertising a bonus since January 2021, directly responding to talent shortages worsened by the pandemic.

Lewis said: “More employers are offering a bonus on top of base salary as they search for ways to attract and retain talent against the backdrop of the Great Resignation.

“While sectors like Sales have consistently offered commission structures, the trend has caught alight and bonuses are spreading into industries struggling to find enough staff.

“For employers, the bonus structure is appealing because it offers more flexibility to respond to future economic conditions, as well as incentivising workers.”

Four other ways to help your hiring process

While it’s a competitive jobs market, landing your next great talent is not just down to offering a tempting bonus – and the first place to start is by sharpening your hiring process, explains business coach Simac Konkader

Making your business stand out to a sea of people that have likely taken the opportunity over the past two years to reassess their careers and what they want out of work, and are now more demanding than ever, has fast become one of the biggest challenges for SMEs.

As the number of job vacancies in the UK reached 1.3 million in the three months to June 2022 – around 432,000 more vacancies when compared with the same period of 2021 – so too have candidate expectations risen around flexible working, benefits, career paths and purpose.

But it doesn’t mean securing your next game-changing hire won’t happen – it just means you need to change your game, too, when it comes to attracting them. Here’s what I advise.

#1 – Handle your recruitment process in the same way you’d sign new clients or customers

The experience you give a candidate during the recruitment process speaks volumes about the work environment in your business, to the extent that even candidates that aren’t successful would feel positively positive about you.

But why are so many companies not investing the same amount of time, effort and goodwill in how they treat candidates, as they would in how they would entice and onboard a new customer?

I was definitely alarmed to read that 70 per cent of the 1,500 people surveyed in June by hiring software company Greenhouse had been ghosted after interviews, yet 60 per cent would reapply to a company they had previously received feedback from.

More tellingly, 61 per cent say recruitment processes overall need improvement – 65 per cent say they won’t submit a job application if it takes longer than 15 minutes to complete, and 53 per cent expect to hear back from companies in one week or less regarding their initial application. Seventy-three per cent want feedback. What are your KPIs compared to these statistics?

Would you expect a prospective customer to spend longer than 15 minutes expressing their interest in your product or service? Would you leave them hanging for more than a week to get back to them? Or would you not get back to them at all? I didn’t think so.

Having your recruitment process emulate the steps of your customer marketing and onboarding journey will definitely feel like a big investment – but one that will prime you to secure your next hire from the 65 per cent of talent in the UK who Greenhouse’s data shows to be job hunting.

#2 – Review your employee benefits – and shout about them

Better employee benefits is a top engagement driver for 33 per cent of the 1,000 SME employees and employers in England surveyed last December by employee benefits platform Sodexo Engage. Better pay, naturally, topped the list for 45 per cent, while for 36 per cent, a better work/life balance is a top priority.

It’s time, then, to review your employee benefits and how they’re being communicated in your recruitment process, right from that first ad.

If you offer hybrid working and flexible hours, give that some airtime, with some examples of how that’s already working for some of your team members. This gives a sense of relatability and allows candidates to visualise themselves in your ranks.

>See also: SME business owners recognise the benefits of employee benefits

Likewise, if you offer unlimited holidays, swappable bank holidays, birthdays off, increased holidays each year or something even more special like sabbaticals. You might not have the deep pockets of your corporate counterparts to develop the most luxurious benefits but look at what you can offer which will make a big difference to people.

And if you can, be transparent. Sharing a salary range, for example, demonstrates part of how you’re creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace, as open negotiations often favour men and can perpetuate pay gaps.

Similarly, if you offer enhanced parental leave, shout it from the rooftops, rather than putting the onus on candidates to ask what might for them be an awkward question.

These are small steps that go a long way towards demonstrating the kind of culture you’re creating – and that someone would want to work in.

#3 – But don’t be desperate…

Don’t just grab onto the first person who shows an inkling of interest in your business for fear of losing them to the next lucrative offer, even in a cut-throat recruitment climate. I’m not saying take too much time – you will need to move with some pace before your candidate’s heads are turned by another suitor, but make sure you have taken the time to ensure their priorities, values, and expectations match yours.

Skills written down on a CV and a stellar performance in a series of interviews with your toughest panel may have you drafting a contract quicker than you can say, “you’re hired”, but they never tell the full story, and can still lead to disappointment months down the line.

This is why I recommend SMEs use assessments like DISC or HireSense for the final round of recruitment. DISC is a behavioural test that scores a candidate on attributes like dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. HireSense, meanwhile, helps you get under the skin of a candidate’s behavioural, motivational and thinking styles.

I would recommend, though, not using these to hire a carbon copy of what you already have, thinking that this would create the best environment. The best use of assessments like these is to first identify the gaps you have in your business and how someone new could bring something different and valuable to the table.

#4 – Systematise your business

How do you avoid the inconsistency that can plague your recruitment efforts and drain your time and energy? As a rule, around 80 per cent of what goes on in your business can be fitted into a structure, leaving you with 20 per cent which actually needs your management.

If your approach to hiring sometimes seems “gut feel”, even that’s a process. Whether it’s somewhat documented and followed to a degree or exists in your head and is all over the place, one exists.

Systematising your hiring processes, as part of a wider business effort, has two major benefits.

One, it requires less of your hands-on management, leaving you time for the important exceptions that do need you to step in.

And two, it allows you to be consistent meaning you can improve your efforts thanks to effective tracking, evaluation and benchmarking of your hiring processes. This, like almost all effective business system implementations, can reap huge benefits and truly improve your recruitment prospects.

Simac Konkader is the founder of business coaching service ActionCOACH

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...