In the ever-evolving world of employment, there's a new trend that’s raising eyebrows and turning heads - Bonus Hopping. 

Picture this: an employee jumps from one job to another, pocketing sign-on bonuses along the way and leaving their previous employer hanging. Some even manage to land back at their original company like a boomerang, securing yet another sign-on bonus. 

We’re all familiar with boomerang employees - or folks who leave a company only to return at a later date. This return is often facilitated by an enticing offer, which may include a sign-on bonus and even a base pay bump. Their return is sometimes seen as a testament to a company's strengths but can be a hit to loyal long-term employees’ morale. And when this cycle becomes a mere ploy to accumulate bonuses, it raises questions about loyalty and ethics.

The Rise of the Bonus Bandit

Now, let's introduce a new player to the scene - the Bonus Bandit. Although somewhat harsh, this term refers to individuals who have developed a knack for moving from one job to another, racking up sign-on bonuses without fulfilling their contractual obligations. They are essentially chasing bonuses like a pot of gold at the end of the corporate rainbow.

Bonus hopping often follows this dance:

1: Sign-On Bonus Stint

Our bonus bandit starts a new job with great enthusiasm, securing a substantial sign-on bonus.

2: Premature Departure

As the thrill of the new job wears off or other factors come into play, the employee decides to move on to another opportunity - often before the completion of their sign-on bonus agreement.

3: Rinse and Repeat

The cycle continues as the employee secures another sign-on bonus at the new company - often within the previous company’s bonus agreement timeframe. Many employers don’t have the means to clawback the bonus so they get away with the funds and try it again elsewhere. 

4: Boomerang

In some cases, the employee may even return to their original company, convincing them to welcome them back with yet another sign-on bonus. 

The Consequences are Clear

  • Financial Loss for Employers: On top of the lost bonus, employers lose substantial resources on employees who leave prematurely, with the cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training replacements.
  • Employee Morale: Bonus hopping can demoralize the employees who remain committed to the company. The revolving door of new hires can create an uncertain work environment.
  • Ethical Dilemmas: The practice raises questions about the moral compass of those who engage in it. Does accepting sign-on bonuses without the intent to stay align with professional integrity?

Bonus hopping raises numerous issues for employees and employers. Employees are taking advantage of their employers by accepting bonuses with no intention of sticking around. Employers need to evaluate their hiring and onboarding processes - not to mention the structure of their compensation - to avoid getting caught in this costly cycle. A retention-based bonus with a contractual obligation could help. 

Bonus hopping is a trend testing the boundaries of professional ethics. While it may provide a short-term financial boost, it’s not without consequences. Employers need to adapt their hiring practices to minimize the risk of falling victim to this trend, and employees should consider the long-term impact of their actions on both their careers and the organizations they join. Ultimately, the corporate world is a small one, and the reputation built over time often trumps any quick gains.

If you’re an employer looking to deliver more effective bonuses to stave off bonus hopping, learn more about smart bonuses from Keep Financial.