If money wasn’t a major influencer on humans, bribery and extortion wouldn’t be a thing. But, one look at the newsfeed from the Department of Justice, and you can easily see how many people took advantage of a global pandemic in order to make a few extra bucks this past year. However, money isn’t all bad. In fact, it can be motivating for employees. And a bonus can go a long way in improving morale and motivating the workforce.

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Every bonus has an impact, and some can give a big boost. Not only should employers be on the lookout for ways to motivate employees with a bonus, but candidates should have an eye out for employers who are willing to put their money where their mouth is. It’s one thing to talk about employee appreciation, but it’s another thing to actually show it.

1. Sign-on

A sign-on bonus communicates a lot of things. It can communicate how desperate employers are to fill a particular position, or it can communicate how interested an employer is in a candidate. Sometimes, it just shows how generous an employer is. But a large sign-on bonus tells a candidate that an employer is willing to invest in them. And it can give a new employee a confidence and motivation boost in their first year of work.

2. Relocation

Moving is hard, so it’s not surprising if many candidates don’t want to do it. But a relocation bonus – either for a current employee or new candidate – goes a long way in telling that person how much you appreciate the decision to relocate. A bonus is different than a reimbursement, and it can be the difference between someone surviving or thriving during a move.

3. Retention

In a challenging recruiting environment, the retention bonus can be a game changer between added costs of finding the right candidate and keeping the same, dedicated employee with the client. A retention bonus can also make up for any jaded feelings an employee may have about being underpaid in their role. It speaks volumes for an employer to re-commit to an employee when they catch wind of them moving. It’s the opposite of treating them like an enemy, as is the norm for some employers.

4. Yearly

There’s something about a known bonus season that keeps employees in it to win it all year long. Now, sometimes, an expected bonus season can lead to complacency, but most don’t want to test just how much their hard work impacts the bonus levels. Having a known goal for employees throughout the year is extremely motivating, and it can be unifying for the overall team. Everyone wants the company to perform well, as long as the distribution seems clear and fair.

5. Just Because

Like a gift when you weren’t expecting it, a random bonus can be a major pick-me-up for employees. It’s fun to be thought of randomly, and bonuses are no different. An unexpected bonus for a job well done tells employees that someone is watching, and they see the hustle and effort. Don’t underestimate how much money talks.


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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.