A shortage of workers driving garbage trucks has led the city of St. Louis to keep up with the garbage collection. City officials recently started promoting a $ 3,000 sign-up bonus for operators of heavy machinery used to lift and load trash. The city is by no means the only one offering financial incentives to fill jobs.

According to a survey by Willis Towers Watson, nearly two-thirds of employers either offer, plan to offer, or are considering a sign up bonus. The consultancy surveyed 380 HR managers this month who represent companies with a total of more than 7.4 million employees. The data was released on Wednesday.

At a time that some have dubbed “The Great Resignation,” US employers are struggling to recruit and retain talent. The number of job vacancies this month exceeded 10 million, a record high, according to the US Department of Labor.

But one question HR managers might ask is, do sign-up bonuses work? The hiring incentive at least helps St. Louis.

“We’ve seen a surge in applications,” said Nick Dunne, a spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. The city has 20 vacancies to “get back to full work in the waste department,” he said.

Dollar Tree Inc., which has approximately 193,000 employees, is now offering warehouse workers a $ 1,000 sign-up bonus. In its quarterly earnings report on Thursday, it told investors that a lack of applicants has “adversely affected the operational efficiency of our distribution centers and our ability to move goods from our distribution centers to our stores.”

We see an increase in applications.

Nick DunneSpeaker, Mayor of St. Louis

Some other steps Dollar Tree has taken to attract and retain talent include offering “increased wages” in select markets and reimbursement of tuition fees, said Michael Witynski, President and CEO of Dollar Tree, in a phone call with financial analysts .

Most popular: tuition reimbursement

One of the most widely used incentives for hiring and retaining talent is tuition reimbursement. According to the Willis Towers Watson survey, around 90% of companies surveyed offer tuition reimbursement, said Adrienne Altman, executive director and North American director of compensation.

Employers see tuition reimbursement as a way to attract and retain people, Altman said. In a tuition reimbursement program, there is usually a “catch” to prevent employees from leaving the company; B. a repayment if you cancel before a certain period of time.

Other efforts to attract employees included increasing entry-level salaries and flexibility in the workplace – something mentioned by 61% of respondents. More than 40% of participants said they were planning or considering increasing the starting salary range.

Employee experience also ranked high in the survey, which Altman describes as “the total experience” for employees, such as “How do we communicate with our employees? How do we get feedback?”

A chance to compete for talent

For high-skilled jobs, especially engineering, sign-up bonuses have been “virtually automatic” for some time, said David Foote, co-founder, chief research officer and chief analyst at Foote Partners LLC.

The research firm sees enrollment bonuses “especially offered to people entering the world of work straight out of college and higher for hot areas like data science for those with newly graduated masters,” Foote said.

However, according to Foote, many employers do not offer the salaries that enable them to compete with “aggressive, predatory, best-paid competitors on the basis of salary” or companies with significant cash reserves.

Instead, they use sign-up bonuses and short-term incentive plans like spot awards, discretionary bonuses, profit sharing, team incentives, retention bonuses, and other steps to attract and retain talent, he said.

More specifically, the state of Vermont is offering a $ 1,000 sign-up bonus on some work, including custodians that pay $ 12.68 an hour.

“The bonuses help us compete with the private / community sector, especially in geographic areas that are already difficult to fill,” said Douglas Pine, assistant director of human resources for Vermont.

“The positions themselves are difficult to fill because they are physically demanding or difficult in addition to the salary,” Pine said in an email.

Maintenance workers in particular must be on call during the winter season, including holidays and weekends, Pine said. “The bonuses are broken down into separate payments so that they also help with retention,” he said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget. He has worked as an IT reporter for companies for more than two decades.