Desperate employers suspend signing bonuses to attract workers

The security system company Fitch Security Integration had to lay off staff at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Now the company is facing the opposite problem: it urgently needs technicians to install and maintain the security system, and is willing to pay $7,000 in bonuses to anyone who advances.

Edward Fitchett, the president of the Toronto company, said: “The signing bonus numbers only appear in despair. This company usually fills jobs through the Internet and rarely needs advertising.”

His small business is not alone. CBC News reviewed dozens of popular job listing sites in Canada, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, SimplyHired and Workoplis, and found that Amazon, Aspire Bakeries, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and other large companies’ recruitment information listed contracts bonus.

For some companies, the use of signing bonuses for ordinary jobs indicates that “this is a time of despair,” saying Mary-Helen BudworthAssociate Professor, School of Human Resource Management, York University.

Canadian unemployment rate remained at 7.8 The percentage in June, about 830,000 Workers aged 25-54 who do not have a full-time jobHowever, with the relaxation of pandemic restrictions, some industries are finding it difficult to find the workers they need.

This Bank of Canada’s business outlook survey Royal Bank of Canada pointed out that some companies are struggling to find professional labor Retirement and slow return immigration It’s like a problem in the labor market.

There are limited data on the prevalence of signing bonuses in Canada.

The recruitment website Indeed stated that advertising, including signing bonuses, has not increased significantly this year. But the recruitment company Robert Half found 35% of the 800 senior executives in various industries it surveyed Provide signing bonuses to help attract workers.

Marie-Hélène Budworth, an associate professor at York University’s School of Human Resources Management, said that the use of signing bonuses for ordinary jobs shows that some companies feel “this is a time of despair.” (James Dunn/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

From driver to hair stylist

Signing bonuses are usually used to provide tailor-made discounts for high-skilled workers such as senior managers, engineers and technical experts, and some industry workers such as mechanics.

But online sampling shows that signing bonuses are now included in advertisements for more common jobs nationwide.

In Nova Scotia, Licensed hair stylist Can get a signing bonus to join the Chatters hair salon in Halifax, and at the same time Delivery driver Can get $1,000 to sign with Dartmouth’s non-profit National Diabetes Trust Fund.

In the Montreal area, Call center sales representative You can get a signing bonus of $1,500, and Amazon offers a signing bonus of $1,000 Warehouse worker. Aveda issued a signing bonus of $400 to recruit Assistant manager For a store.

In Winnipeg, there is a signing bonus of $500 Bilingual customer service representative at the airport.In Edmonton, provide the same amount Health assistant, although Security guard You can get $250 for signing in.

In BC, Fairmont Chateau Whistler will pay a $500 bonus and the same amount of relocation expenses Room Attendant, Aspire Bakeries offers $1,000 to new Production workers In Burnaby, Molly Maid is New cleaner In Victoria.

Tensions for two companies in Ontario

In Caledon, Ontario, just over an hour’s drive from Toronto, Thomas Wilson was relieved to see the pandemic restrictions relaxed. He said his orchard and restaurant business has never been so busy.

“People can’t leave. They can’t go to distant destinations,” said Wilson, who owns Spirit Tree Estate Cidery.

But he was worried.

Thomas Wilson is the owner of Spirit Tree Estate Cidery in Caledon, Ontario. He offered a signing bonus of $1,000 to attract new hires he desperately needed. (Craig Cheevers/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

He has eight students who are about to leave the school, and he has laid off five employees, two of whom hold key positions.

“If I don’t complete some recruitment work next week, I will also serve as head chef and sous chef before we fill these positions,” he said.

In order to attract candidates, Wilson provides a signing bonus of $1,000 for each job.

This is not the first time he has used bonuses. But in the absence of hiring employees for three weeks, the pressure was increasing because his kitchen was difficult to keep up and the event booking was rejected.

Wilson said it would be difficult to provide larger bonuses because other costs are also increasing.

“We lost money last year. So far we have lost money this year,” he said. “We can only go so far.”

Fitchett, the owner of Toronto Security Systems, said he is even considering increasing the amount as a signing bonus.

“It should be crazy, but it is,” he said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, he had to fire four technicians. The three have not returned, and the company has been struggling to keep up with the pent-up service demand for months.

He now has job postings for three positions, each offering a signing bonus of $7,000. After 30 days, he did not have a qualified applicant. He said the shortage of employees caused work delays and could force him to reject clients.

The truck stopped at Fitch Security Integration in Toronto. The company is looking for skilled technicians to drive the truck to the work site and start installing the safety system. (James Dunn/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

“You can see outside our back door and see a line of trucks sitting there waiting for employees. Without these employees, the jobs brought by the sales staff cannot be installed,” he said.

Not a universal solution

In Langley, British Columbia, Trevor Borland, owner of fastener manufacturer Pacific Bolt, is considering using robots to make up for lost business due to a lack of labor and skilled workers to keep up with orders.

Other companies in his area are also trying to seek help.

“When you drive into the industrial park where we are located, almost every building has a huge’help’ sign,” he said.

Trevor Borland owns fastener manufacturer Pacific Bolt. He is eager to hire employees for his factory in Langley, British Columbia. Instead of signing a bonus, he raised his salary by 15% to attract new employees. (Christian Amundsen/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

He doesn’t know who will provide a signing bonus, but Borland has already offered a $500 referral bonus to employees who bring in new employees and has increased their salary by 15%.

Budworth said that in the long run, salary increases are better for employees, and employees will benefit from trying to reduce signing bonuses to increase wages.

She and other experts said that as immigration gradually resumes, as more skilled and temporary foreign workers enter the country, some of the pressure on the labor force will ease.

Budworth predicts that the lifetime of the signing bonus trend will be limited.

“It may last for a while, but it won’t last forever,” she said.

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