Houston-area employers offering sign-on bonuses to fill jobs

HOUSTON – Some employers in the Houston area are offering hundreds to thousands of dollars in hiring bonuses to help fill jobs.

New hires at Willie’s Ice House can earn an extra $300 to $500 depending on the position, according to the company.

“There is a massive vacuum of labor right now specifically in the restaurant business,” said Marty Wadsworth, vice president of marketing.

The restaurant group has been offering the hiring bonus for about three months, Wadsworth said.

“Getting employees back into the restaurant industry has proven difficult,” Wadsworth said. “They may have gone off to other industries or been burnt by the fact that they didn’t have a job for over a year.”

From restaurants to roads, the city of Houston is offering up to $3,000 in incentive pay for solid waste management drivers with a CDL license.

New nurses at Houston Methodist can earn up to $15,000 in sign-on bonuses. The hospital said the incentive isn’t new but the amount was increased and current employees can cash in too.

“When we offer a sign up bonus, quite often like we’re doing now, we match that with a referral bonus for our employees so if you refer someone and they’re hired, you both get the bonus,” said Tom Vernon, vice president of talent and experience.

So why are some employers having a hard time hiring?

While some point to unemployment benefits, Lisa Bogany with Workforce Solutions believes there is a lack of candidates looking for work and while others may have used the pandemic to upgrade their skills.

“The employers that are looking to get those candidates back, they’re now having to find new talent pool because those candidates are moving on to other jobs,” said Bogany, who serves as strategic projects manager.

She said only time will tell whether the incentives are effective at filling positions on a long-term basis.

Willie’s said 120 employees in the Houston area have received the bonus so far. Houston Methodist said its bonus program generated more than 350 hires since April.

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