Executive search firm Korn Ferry found in a survey of more than 50 major US retailers in late April that 94% said they were having difficulty filling vacant roles. Twenty-nine percent said they had implemented a sign-on bonus to help in hiring, while 32% said they had a referral program.
“Historically, stores have not had to do sign-on bonuses,” said Craig Rowley, senior client partner at Korn Ferry specializing in retail. “In the past, there were always enough people applying for jobs.
“It tells you how needy retailers are for staff,” he said.
Companies are searching for workers as growing numbers of vaccinated Americans head back to stores.
Companies hope bonuses will help them meet staffing needs and continue growing.
‘A cherry on top’
Amazon employees has offered higher sign-on bonuses for some hourly positions, too.
Robin Ray Buscaino, 22, lost his job in 2020 at a restaurant in Colton, California, and was unemployed for a year. He started working at an Amazon regional air hub in San Bernardino, California, loading and unloading cargo from planes for $16.40 an hour.
Buscaino said the $3,000 bonus Amazon was offering for the job was a deciding factor in his decision to work there.
“The bonus was a cherry on top,” he said. Other places he was looking at weren’t able to match it.
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is giving $1,000 sign-on bonuses to staff 200 open jobs at its distribution centers. Sheetz is offering $500 bonuses for store workers and $1,000 for shift supervisors to fill 50 jobs. Tops Markets, a supermarket chain in the Northeast, is handing out $2,000 bonuses to hire around 100 workers in its distribution center.
Customer demand is “up all over the country,” said Tom Kuypers, a spokesperson for Ollie’s. “We need people for our distribution centers” to meet it.
Ollie’s implemented the $1,000 bonus last month, and Kuypers said he thinks it helped make the company more competitive in hiring and increased the number of applicants.
Clint Woodman, the president of Woodman’s Markets, an employee-owned supermarket chain with 18 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois, said the company needs to hire 600 workers to give a breather to its current employees, many of whom are working overtime.
The company last week began offering up to $1,500 bonuses for new full-time workers and $500 employee referral bonuses. “We’re certainly hoping that it has a big effect so we can provide the service that our customers are used to,” he said.