While many employers are offering bonuses or higher pay these days as a way to attract and retain workers, a central Florida organization is offering staff the chance to win two brand new and mortgage-free houses.

Mechanical One will hold the draw next December, says Jason James, the air conditioning and plumbing company’s president and chief executive officer. “My passion is really trying to reinvent employee appreciation. Our business model is really, if we take care of our people, they are going to do more for us than any marketing budget.”

On this side of the border, Ontario-based engineering consultancy firm C.F. Crozier and Associates Inc. created buzz by announcing this summer it would be providing employees with $20,000 to use as a down payment on their first home.

Read: C.F. Crozier providing employees with $20,000 help to buy first home

Mechanical One has bought two lots for the three-bedroom, two-bath homes and has set aside a US$500,000 budget for the project. James says he thought about other incentives, such a giving away a car or a vacation, but then he decided he wanted his employees to be able to enjoy their own homes. “Many of our employees own a home already, but a lot of them rent.”

To qualify for the draw, employees must be with the company for a full year and take a financial literacy class, paid for by the company. They also must perform 20 hours of community service at a nonprofit of the employee’s choosing. “They get financial education, which helps them get to the goal of owning their own home anyway and it has an impact on the community.”

The privately-held company of nearly 100 people began operations in July, so no employees qualify yet. James announced the draw during a Dec. 4 employee gathering. The home giveaway is another in a series of steps companies have taken this year to fight against what some have dubbed the Great Resignation. Many workers who left jobs during the pandemic haven’t returned and a survey by PwC found 65 per cent of employees are searching for a new job.

Read: 65% of employees looking to change jobs due to compensation, well-being: survey

A recent survey by Hays Specialist Recruitment Canada Inc. found strikingly similar results, as 65 per cent of Canadians said they’re seriously considering leaving their job because of issues such as compensation, declining job satisfaction and overall well-being.

Many fast-food chains in the U.S. have offered signing bonuses and corporations, including Amazon.com Inc., Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp., have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour or more. James says he was inspired to create a company with an employee-focus after a stint with Chik-fil-A, which has twice-yearly outings for employees and their families and has a low-cost health-care plan. He had been working in HVAC and plumbing for about six years before starting his own company.

Read: Employers enhancing meaningful benefits offerings to attract, keep top talent