Anyone looking for a reminder of what companies are willing to do to deal with the current labor shortage got one this week, when Tyson Foods said it will pay $50 million in year-end bonuses to frontline and hourly workers as a way of saying thank you — and convincing them to stick around.
In a Monday press release, the Springdale, Arkansas-based food manufacturer said the one-time bonuses will be based on tenure and range from $300 to $700. Workers will receive the bonuses starting this month.
“This is yet another way for us to say thank you and show how grateful we are for our frontline teams’ efforts to keep each other safe, our company strong and our world fed over the past year,” President and CEO Donnie King said in the press release. “While 2021 presented many challenges, our entire Tyson team continued to meet them, head on.”
For many American employers, those challenges included a continuing exodus of workers that began with the COVID-19 pandemic. As GOBankingRates previously reported, 5 million people left the labor force during the pandemic, according to research from Goldman Sachs. About half of them are at or nearing retirement age and likely won’t be returning to the workforce.
To compete for the available labor pool, employers have had to up the ante in terms of money and perks.
Amazon has offered signing bonuses of up to $3,000, Business Insider reported, while Monument Health in South Dakota has offered sign-on bonuses as high as $40,000 for intensive care and operating room nurses.
Food manufacturers like Tyson have been hit especially hard by the labor shortage. As of early this year, roughly 59,000 workers at U.S. food-processing plants were infected with COVID-19, Reuters reported, citing data from a U.S. House subcommittee report. In addition to Tyson, companies affected include JBS USA, Cargill, National Beef Packing Company and Smithfield Foods.
In response, Tyson has spent more than $500 million in wage increases and bonuses for frontline workers over the past year. It is also offering more flexible work schedules at some of its facilities. Starting next year, it will offer paid sick leave.
Meanwhile, the company has opened seven health centers to give frontline workers and their families easier access to healthcare at no cost in most cases. It also recently launched a pilot program to provide child care for late-shift workers at its Amarillo, Texas, beef production facility.
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