Job board research indicates that over 5,000 vacancies across the UK are currently offering signing-on bonuses for in-demand roles such as care workers, chefs and nursery staff.

Care home operator HC One offered a £10,000 “welcome bonus” on two jobs for registered night nurses, both in Scotland, as private health care providers battle with a shortage of workers partly caused by EU citizens returning hope. 

HC One’s offer is particularly high. But, elsewhere, mental health group Elysium Healthcare is offering a welcome bonus of £5,000 for registered nurses, while the Priory Group is offering £5,000 for mental health nurses.

Amazon in the UK are offering £1,000 signing on bonuses for picker/packers and the incentives offered to HGV drivers are well-documented. Asda has joined Tesco in offering a £1,000 signing on fee for HGV drivers amid a shortage in qualified workers that prompted dairy group Arla to offer a £2,000 bonus.

Research in the US shows eye-watering sign-on bonuses in other sectors too.

Raytheon Technologies, in the defence industry space, is offering a “minimum $50,000 sign-on bonus for several software-related jobs that require active secret security clearance.” Raytheon is also giving $12,000 bonuses “for incumbents with top secret or sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI) clearance.”

Automotive technicians and repairers, animal caretakers, barbers and hairdressers and cosmetologists since July 2021 have seen bonuses skyrocket too. Banfield Pet Hospital is offering a bonus of up to $60,000 for veterinary-related roles.

The latest REC & KPMG UK Report on Jobs highlights that vacancy levels remain high – with candidate supply dropping at an unprecedented rate.

Many employers are pinning their hopes on the winding down of the furlough scheme at the end of September will bring more job hunters to the market.

However many businesses have changed their business model during the pandemic, and significant numbers of staff returning from furlough may need reskilling to rejoin the workforce in the same or another sector.

These bonuses are a clear sign of the ferocious competition that’s taking place.

So if you want to avoid a wage auction, evaluate every aspect of your total rewards package and employee experience to find those marginal, but distinctive gains.