Sign-on Bonuses not on Endangered List

January 22, 2002 ( - Despite the economic slump, the majority of companies have made no changes to their sign-on bonus program, a survey finds.

According to a late December 2001 survey by WorldatWork, 62% of the sample hasn’t changed their sign-on bonus programs. They have not even made changes in the amounts of a sign-on bonus.

Bonus Levels

The survey found that in all employee categories, with the exception of clerical staff, more than 56% of responding companies are still using a sign-on bonus plan.

In fact:

  • over 85% have a sign on bonus plan at the executive level
  • a slightly higher number give sign on bonuses to upper management
  • three-quarters give them to middle management
  • over 80% offer them to professional staff
  • some 56% give them to sales staff
  • IT staff at 75% of companies are given such bonuses, versus only 17% of clerical staff.


And companies are not skimping either. The survey found that:

  • over a third of the companies report providing between a $1,000 – $4,999 bonus
  • slightly less give between $5,000 – $9,999.

In the executive ranks:

  • only 8% provide more than $50,000
  • but 37% report providing between $25,000 – $49,999.

The majority, 85% provide the bonus in the form of a flat dollar amount.

According to the survey, only a third of companies protect themselves paying a portion of the bonus on date of hire and the remainder after a set period of time.

But, while at roughly 49% of the companies, employees forfeit the bonus if they leave the company within the first year, at 28% of the sample, employees get the cash with no such strings attached.

The sample comprised 348 companies.