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Share of Employers Offering Signing Bonuses Jumps


Financial incentives on the rise amid hiring shortages.

Key Points:

  • The share of job postings advertising signing bonuses on Indeed UK rose 75% in the three months ending August 31 as employers grappled with hiring bottlenecks.
  • Gas engineers, pharmacists, drivers and social carers saw the biggest gains over the summer.
  • The share of nursing roles with signing bonuses remained high, with some listings offering up to £5,000.

Amid hiring bottlenecks across the UK labour market, the percentage of employers offering signing bonuses has been on the rise. While employers in some sectors have been raising wages in a bid to attract candidates, others have been focusing more on one-off financial incentives like bonuses for signing on. From an employer’s perspective, signing bonuses, also called joining bonuses, have the advantage of being a one-time cost that doesn’t require a permanent wage hike for all employees. It may reflect a hope or expectation that current hiring difficulties will be temporary.

  Advertising of joining bonuses in job postings rose 75% in three months

Line chart titled “More job postings offering signing bonuses.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 0.6%, Indeed tracked the share of job postings that advertise joining bonuses along a horizontal axis ranging from 1 April, 2021 to 31 August 2021. As of 31 August 2021, 0.51% of Indeed job postings advertised joining bonuses, up 75% from the share of 0.29% seen on 31 May 2021.

As of 31 August, 0.51% of Indeed job postings noted joining bonuses, up 75% from 0.29% on 31 May. 

While the share of postings offering joining bonuses remains small overall, the growth over the summer has been notable, coming as employers across a number of sectors report worsening labour shortages. 

Chemical engineering, pharmacy, driving and care registered the biggest increases  

Table titled “Signing bonuses rising across a number of sectors.” Indeed compared the share of job postings in Indeed UK offering signing bonuses across various sectors in May and August 2021 and the percentage point change between the two months. The biggest increase between May and August 2021 was in chemical engineering up to 3.8% from 0.7%, a percentage point change of +3.2%.

A number of sectors have seen especially strong increases recently in the share of job postings offering signing bonuses. Between the end of May and the end of August, the biggest gain was in chemical engineering, a category dominated by gas engineering jobs. It also had the highest share of postings specifying signing bonuses in August, with some job ads offering incentives up to £3,000. The share in pharmacy also rose notably, while driving and social care postings had sizable jumps following well-publicised hiring shortages in those areas. 

In terms of size of share, nursing at 2.7% was second highest at the end of August, just behind chemical engineering. However, nursing’s share changed little from the end of May. Nursing positions have long been one of the most difficult to fill, with among the lowest levels of jobseeker interest per posting and longest average duration of postings among jobs advertised on Indeed. Nursing job postings are offering as much as £5,000 in signing bonuses. In some cases retention bonuses are also offered after a certain period of service.  


Employers have been looking at new ways to bring in the workers they need amid widespread candidate shortages in recent months. The share of job postings offering signing bonuses has jumped in a number of sectors. Bonus amounts vary, but in many cases run to several thousand pounds for certain hard-to-fill roles. 

From an employer’s perspective, one-off financial incentives often reflect a hope or expectation that current hiring difficulties will prove temporary. It remains to be seen how long current recruitment shortages persist and whether some sectors ultimately need to raise pay to bring in the workers they need. In the near term, it seems likely that signing bonuses will remain a notable feature of the recruitment landscape, with the rising share of employers offering them forcing rivals to counter with incentives of their own. 


Signing bonus job postings are defined as those that include terms like “signing bonus,” “sign on bonus,” “bonus for signing on” or “joining bonus” in the job description.