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Thousands of euros in bonuses for the new job

More and more companies are offering job change bonuses. They want to assert themselves in the competition for skilled workers. But why don’t employers just pay higher salaries?

By Milena Pieper and Davide Di Dio, hr

Nursing staff, medical assistants, laboratory employees: the list of job advertisements at the Agaplesion Hospital in Giessen is long. As in so many areas, we are looking for skilled workers. For some jobs, those who are hired not only get a job, but also a decent bonus. It is 2,000 euros for the position in the cardiac catheter laboratory that is currently being advertised.

The idea behind it: make the workplace more attractive. Healthcare jobs have a bad reputation, says Ina Junga. She heads human resources management at Agaplesion Hospital. “Our working conditions here in the company are not as unattractive as they are portrayed in the media.” That’s why they introduced the bonus.

Switch bonuses are trendy

Like the clinic, numerous companies are vying for employees – and not just in the healthcare industry. From automotive mechatronics technicians to kitchen fitters, employers are enticing with bonuses of between 300 and 4,000 euros.

An analysis by the job platform Indeed shows that bonus payments when changing jobs have increased significantly. In 2019, out of one million job advertisements on the platform, 3,050 advertisements were advertised with a bonus. In 2023 there were 7,129, more than twice as many. Even if the proportion remains low, a trend is clearly visible.

change to Employee market

This can be explained by the situation on the labor market, which has continued to develop in favor of employees. According to the Institute for Labor Market and Occupational Research, there are currently around 1.7 million job vacancies in Germany. Around 2.6 million people are looking for work.

This means that there are around 1.5 job seekers per position. Ten years ago there were roughly four job seekers for one job. The competition on the employee side was significantly greater. Today it is employers who have to advertise themselves.

Awards at Frankfurt Airport are successful

The fact that the instrument of the job change bonus appears to be effective can be seen where the shortage of skilled workers is particularly great: at Frankfurt Airport. Fraport has been paying a bonus for new employees since 2022. You can get 1,000 euros from the ground handling subsidiary FraGround.

The fact that Fraport got into the trend early is due to the special situation in the aviation industry during the pandemic, says Fraport spokesman Andreas Schopf. “Air traffic was the first to be affected by the corona measures and was the last industry to return to normality.” Many employees left the company during this time and pursued other activities.

Higher salaries not economical?

According to the company, Fraport has gained 4,000 new employees since the bonus was introduced. Spokesman Schopf emphasizes that the bonus, along with other benefits such as the Deutschlandticket, is a factor in the decision for the employer. But employers not only want employees to come, but also want them to stay in the job. So why don’t they pay more salaries in places where skilled workers are desperately needed?

The reason for this is economic calculation, says Michael Neugart, economist at TU Darmstadt. If companies were to increase the gross monthly wage by 100 or 200 euros, they would have to pay the amount for the entire period of employment. A one-off payment provides a financial incentive for employees, but employers do not have to make a long-term commitment – and they remain within their financial means.

2024 will be another employee year

The Agaplesion Hospital in Giessen could pay more, says human resources manager Junga. In nursing, however, this would mean that fewer staff could be hired overall. Because the health insurance companies paid the hospital flat rates for the patients treated. The financial resources are therefore limited.

“It wouldn’t help anyone if we paid the masses more but had to limit our staff to such an extent that we could no longer do the work,” says Junga.

Higher salaries are therefore not a solution for the Giessen clinic. And yet, like the previous year, 2024 remains a year for employees. Especially those who have a sought-after job can hope for job change bonuses and are in a good negotiating position.

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