Types of Bonuses: 7 Bonus Structures to Retain Employees | Keep Financial

Types of Bonuses: 7 Bonus Structures to Retain Employees

Do you want to invest in a smarter, more efficient workforce? Nowadays, the way businesses operate is rapidly changing. Employees come and go quickly and competently retaining staff members with relevant knowledge has become increasingly important.

As a CFO or Finance leader, it’s your job to ensure employees are retained while offering financial rewards that keep up the momentum throughout the organization. Investing wisely in bonuses can help guide success without breaking the budget – there are seven bonus structures to choose from that offer effective results over time. Read on for a deep dive into how each type of structure works, including why it may be right for your company’s needs!

What is a Typical Bonus Structure?

When it comes to bonuses, companies may provide a range of structures based on their priorities and goals. A typical bonus structure often includes a base salary combined with a percentage of the employee's annual earnings. This percentage could depend on factors such as performance, company profits, and goals achieved by the individual or team.

Some companies offer a flat rate bonus, which may vary for different positions or levels within the organization. Additionally, some companies offer bonuses in the form of stocks or other incentives, such as paid time off or health benefits. Understanding the structure of bonuses can help employees gauge their compensation expectations and motivate them to work towards achieving their goals.

How Do You Determine Bonus Structure?

Determining the bonus structure for your employees can be a challenging task. It requires a fair amount of thought and analysis to create a structure that is both motivating and in line with your company's goals. You may want to consider various factors such as revenue, profitability, and employee performance when deciding on the bonus structure.

It's important to keep in mind that the structure you choose should be fair and rewarding for everyone. Your employees should be able to understand how the bonus system works and what they need to do to achieve their goals. Establishing a clear and transparent bonus structure can help motivate your team and promote a healthy work culture.

7 Different Bonus Structure Types

If you're looking for ways to incentivize your employees, implementing a bonus structure is a great place to start. There are various types of bonus structures that you could consider. It's essential to choose the bonus structure that best fits your company's needs, goals, and budget.

7 Types of Bonus Structures

  1. Performance-Based Bonuses
  2. Profit-Sharing Bonuses
  3. Sign-On Bonuses
  4. Referral Bonuses
  5. Spot Bonuses
  6. Long-Term Incentive Plans
  7. Vesting Cash Bonus

Performance-Based Bonuses

Performance-based bonuses are a form of incentive pay that employers offer to employees who excel in their work. Instead of providing a fixed salary, employees who exceed performance expectations are eligible for bonuses that can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Performance-based bonuses are a win-win for both employer and employee.

Companies can save money on salaries by not having to pay as much upfront, while employees have the opportunity to earn more money by working harder and achieving better results. The goal of performance-based bonuses is to encourage employees to work harder and be more productive, which ultimately benefits the company. By incentivizing great work, companies can create a culture of high-quality work that benefits everyone involved.

Profit-Sharing Bonuses

Profit-sharing bonuses are a way for companies to incentivize their employees and reward them for their hard work. These bonuses are typically based on the company's profits and are distributed among employees based on a predetermined formula. This not only benefits employees financially but can also create a sense of camaraderie within the workplace as everyone is working towards a common goal.

Profit-sharing bonuses can also serve as a motivating factor for employees to go above and beyond in their work, as they know there is a potential reward waiting for them. Companies need to consider implementing profit-sharing bonuses as part of their compensation package to attract and retain top talent.

Sign-On Bonuses

From the perspective of a CFO, sign-on bonuses can be an effective tool to attract and retain top talent, especially in highly competitive industries. By offering a lump sum payment upfront, companies can incentivize candidates to join their organization and make up for any salary differences from their previous employer.

This can also help to reduce the time and cost associated with recruiting and training new employees. Sign-on bonuses can also benefit employees, as they receive immediate financial compensation for joining a new company, helping to offset the costs of relocation or any other expenses associated with starting a new job.

Referral Bonuses

Referral bonuses are a popular tactic used by companies to incentivize their employees to bring in new talent. Essentially, a referral bonus is a monetary reward given to an employee who refers to a candidate for an open position that eventually gets hired. This practice benefits both the company and the employee since the company can save money on recruitment and training costs, while the employee can earn extra cash.

Referral bonuses can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars and are an effective way to increase employee engagement, as well as promote a positive workplace culture. It's important to note that while referral bonuses can be lucrative, they do not guarantee a successful hire every time. However, with the added incentive, employees may be more likely to recommend qualified candidates and help their company build a talented and engaged workforce.

Spot Bonuses

Spot bonuses are a form of incentive pay that employers use to recognize their employees for exceptional accomplishments. Unlike regular bonuses, spot bonuses are usually given spontaneously, without a predetermined timetable or criteria. This creates an element of surprise for the employee and provides immediate gratification for a job well done.

Spot bonuses can take the form of cash, gift cards, or even extra paid time off. They are a powerful tool for employers to motivate and retain employees, as they show that the company values the hard work and dedication of its employees. When employees feel appreciated and recognized for their contributions, they are more likely to stay committed to their job and to go above and beyond in their work.

Long-Term Incentive Plans

Long-term incentive plans are a popular way to motivate and reward employees for their hard work and loyalty. These plans typically involve offering employees a financial incentive, such as stock options or performance-based bonuses, that is tied to their long-term success with the company. By providing employees with a clear path to financial growth and personal development, companies can inspire a dedicated and driven workforce that is committed to achieving long-term success.

However, the success of a long-term incentive plan depends heavily on the company's ability to create a culture of transparency, trust, and open communication. Only then can employees feel confident that their hard work and efforts will be recognized and rewarded appropriately.

Vesting Cash Bonuses

One of the ways to incentivize employees which are growing in popularity is by offering cash bonuses. But what happens when an employee leaves the company before the bonus payout date? This is where vesting cash bonuses come in. Vesting typically occurs over some time, and once an employee becomes fully vested, they have earned the right to receive another bonus if they so choose.

Vesting schedules can vary, but they often require a certain amount of time with the company before an employee can receive the full bonus amount. This incentivizes employees to stay with the company while also protecting the company's investment in their employees. Vesting cash bonuses can be a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.


Having a fair and equitable bonus structure for your employees can help create a productive atmosphere of motivating performance and rewarding progress. A proper incentive program keeps your team striving for success and more importantly, provides an extra reward for hard-working members of your organization.

From performance-based bonuses to profit-sharing bonuses, from sign-on bonuses to referral bonuses—there is no shortage of creatively structured ways to give back to the team that works so hard for you. Be sure to do your research when creating a bonus structure that fits with your organization; keep in mind the diversity of strategy types, and different ways structure types work together, and consider the possible financial commitment you could face if/when setting up a program.

Learn more with the Ultimate Guide to Employee Bonus Structures here.

Keep Financial offers a vesting cash bonus that can help incentivize employees to find a shared purpose and commitment to the organization that helps keep top talent on board. 

To learn how Keep Financial can help you deliver valuable, flexible compensation that fits the needs of today’s workforce, schedule a demo today!

Related Insight

Directed Payments
Our integration with Method via its API enables you to move money between your financial accounts including checking accounts, student loans, credit cards, mortgages, etc.