These Companies Are Offering Free Tuition and Other Perks to Lure Reluctant Workers

Walmart employee

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Help (Really, Really) Wanted

If you’ve noticed a lot of “now hiring” signs while you’ve been out and about, there’s good reason: The country is experiencing an unprecedented worker shortage. That’s forcing companies to get creative with both hiring and employee retention, leading to a steady stream of bonuses and perks that would have been unheard of just a few years ago, including a recently announced Amazon incentive that could apply to nearly a million U.S. workers. Here’s how some of the biggest names in business are luring (and keeping) employees. 

Related: Companies With Unusual Employee Perks Fulfillment Center. Amazon is the Largest Internet-Based Retailer in the United States V


Unsurprisingly, Amazon can never hire enough workers to support its e-commerce empire. In May, it began resorting to $1,000 signing bonuses for many warehouse and transportation positions and, more recently, it's said it will pay 100% of college tuition — including fees and textbooks — for its 750,000 U.S. hourly employees starting in January 2022. As if that's not enough, it’s also trying to lure corporate workers back to the office by helping pay for commuters’ bikes, e-bikes, bike rentals, and even bike maintenance.

Related: These Employers Are Hiring Ahead of the Holidays

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This fall, Target will offer employees a perk that might propel them to a new job (though not necessarily) — a deal to cover tuition, fees, and even textbooks for full- and part-time workers at more than 40 institutions. Target employees will qualify for the fund on their first day, and those who choose a program that Target sees as useful to its business, like computer science, information technology, or business management (a total of 250 programs) will have the full cost covered. For those seeking a different specialty or a master's degree, Target will pay up to $5,250 (undergrad) and up to $10,000 each year for higher degrees.

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This iconic chicken chain has unveiled a unique personal finance program that it hopes will help employees learn how to save and spend more wisely in the long run. Participants will learn about personal finance and earn prize points along the way. Even more compelling: The KFC Foundation will match up to $40 in savings a month for six months for each employee, giving them a chance to pad their emergency funds.

Related: Painless Ways to Grow Your Emergency Fund

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Workers at the iconic Golden Arches could soon see emergency child care and college tuition payments among their benefits. The burger giant is joining with its franchisees to co-fund the initiative, based on feedback from thousands of workers at all levels. McDonald’s has already raised pay for workers at company-owned locations, and expects to pay at least $15 an hour at those restaurants by 2024.

Related: Companies That Pay at Least $15 an Hour

Shake Shack

Shake Shack

This trendy burger chain recently announced that it would spend more than $10 million on a “team member commitment” aimed at hiring and retaining workers. The money will go toward wage increases, $500-to-$1,000 hiring bonuses, and even subscription allowances for managers to pay for cell phone and streaming bills “or other things that improve their mental, physical, or emotional well-being,” according to QSR, which covers the fast-food industry.

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Omni Hotels & Resorts

Omni Hotels & Resorts

How’s a free hotel room sound? It’s a reality for some new employees with Omni Hotels & Resorts. The chain has offered three free nights to new employees, and has even incentivized summer workers at some properties with complimentary stays for the duration of their employment — essentially giving them free housing, The New York Times reports. It has also pledged to allow staffers who stay past at least through Labor Day a spot in its management training program.

Waste Management

Waste Management

Walmart and McDonald’s aren’t the only ones making higher education front and center in their efforts to lure and keep employees. Waste Management announced its Your Tomorrow program in May, saying it offers both workers and even their dependents a chance to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees, finish high school, or opt for technology and business certificate programs at no personal cost. The program includes more than 170 options in fields like business and technology. 

Uber and Lyft


Also back in April, Uber threw a whopping $250 million at its driver shortage. The one-time stimulus was spent on a range of employee incentives, including $1,000-plus bonuses after completing a certain number of trips, according to CNBC.