A signing bonus or sign-on bonus is a sum of money paid to a new employee by a company as an incentive to join that company. They are often given as a way of making a compensation package more attractive to the employee (e.g., if the annual salary is lower than he or she desires). It also lowers the risk to the company as it is a one-time payment; for example, if the employee does not meet expectations, the company has not committed to a higher salary. Signing bonuses are often used in professional sports, and to recruit graduates into their first jobs.
To encourage employees to stay at the organization, there are often clauses in the contract whereby if the employee quits before a specified period, they have to return the signing bonus.