RALEIGH – In a challenging labor market, where there are still about twice the number of job openings as there are unemployed workers, some organizations turn toward offering incentives such as hiring bonuses or retention benefits like cash payments or additional paid time off.

That includes the City of Raleigh, Wake County, and the State of North Carolina.

Julia Milstead, a spokesperson for the City of Raleigh, told WRAL TechWire this week that hiring bonuses are offered for “certain positions that have been difficult for the City to fill, especially those in the public safety sector.”

That’s because throughout 2022, the hiring market for these type of roles has been “very competitive,” Milstead told WRAL TechWire.  “Bonuses are one way that we have attracted people outside of the Raleigh area to consider employment with the City.”

As an example, the police department currently provides an employee referral bonus of up to $5,000, as well as a hiring bonus for experienced officers.  The City also considers paying hiring bonuses to attract a new employee “if required to fill a critical managerial role,” said Milstead.

The City of Raleigh is currently seeking workers for 41 full-time roles and 67 part-time roles. It’s not just the City of Raleigh that’s offering hiring bonuses or other incentives to attract or retain workers.  


Wake County offering bonuses to hire, retain talent

Wake County implemented a policy earlier this year where employees hired between February 2, 2022 and November 30, 2022 will receive a $1,000 retention incentive on December 30, 2022.  Plus, the policy provides 40 hours of paid retention leave on August 1, 2022, or on their hire date.

A spokesperson for Wake County told WRAL TechWire that the human resources department is still analyzing the data from the program, though added that the County is “happy to report that we are seeing a downturn in turnover rates” compared to the prior year.

And while incentives for 2023 have not yet been determined by the county government, Hollie Allen, the spokesperson, noted that Wake County is anticipating “that the current labor market crisis will continue if not worsen.”

Throughout 2022, said Allen, Wake County experienced challenges in recruiting for positions that include paramedics, social workers, IT professionals, detention officers, and skilled trade workers.

There are currently roles posted on the Wake County website that are listed as qualifying, potentially, for $5,000 sign-on bonuses, which Allen noted are a commonly used tool in competitive labor markets. “Roles selected for a sign-on bonus were based on the level of difficulty recruiting for those positions and/or market trends of other organizations offering bonuses for the same positions,” noted Allen.  


Labor shortages statewide lead state government to offer incentives, too

At the April 14, 2022 State Human Resources Commission, a policy geared toward boosting the State of North Carolina’s ability to recruit and retain talent was approved.

The policy allows a sign-on bonus, either for a specific job classification or a specific position, “as part of a program established to attract qualified candidates in critical positions that have labor market shortages, and only when it is common practice to offer a sign-on bonus to a candidate for a position to be competitive in the market,” according to language published on the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources website about the policy, which has statutory authority and went effective on June 1, 2022.

So far, “several hundred employees have received bonuses,” said Jill Lucas, a spokesperson for the State of North Carolina, in an interview with WRAL TechWire. Agencies that are utilizing the program include the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Department of Labor, and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, said Lucas.

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And the North Carolina Department of Transportation, NCDOT, is set to implement hiring and retention bonuses starting on December 1, 2022, according to Amanda Olive, the human resources director for NCDOT.

“The Department worked to collect and analyze data according to accepted human resource professional practice and standards,” said Olive.  “The data showed an issue with recruiting and retaining certain classifications within the Department that have greater than a 20% turnover rate.”

Employees within those classifications will be granted a retention bonus, Olive noted, and starting on December 1, “all of the postings for the difficult to recruit and retain classifications will include information regarding the hiring bonuses for those positions.”

Has this policy worked?  Too soon to tell.

Lucas told WRAL TechWire that the first full quarterly report on the program has not yet been delivered to the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources.

There are currently 1,417 open roles with the State of North Carolina, according to the careers page.  


Look for Triangle job postings on these Twitter accounts

Here are some locally run Twitter accounts that regularly share job openings in the Triangle: