Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, took employee retention to new heights when he announced in April that he was raising the salary of every one of his staffers to a minimum of $70,000 over the next three years, regardless of job title — and dropping his own $1 million paycheck to $70,000. Such astonishing generosity essentially guarantees employee loyalty and retention.
While few companies can or will duplicate Price's action, employers want to hang on to good workers. A 2012 study of future human resources challenges by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that nearly 60 percent of HR professionals surveyed listed retention and reward of the best employees as their top goal. Thirty-six percent said creating a corporate culture attractive to top talent is of key importance. No wonder: A 2013 CareerBuilder survey noted that one in four workers said they planned to change jobs in the current or following year.
Turnover and training new employees can cost companies in time, money and productivity, so it pays to retain good staff. To improve employee satisfaction, many companies have adopted flexible hours, subsidized passes for mass transportation, provided 401(k) retirement saving plans, and offered casual dress policies. But there are also many uncommon ways you may be able to boost your workforce's engagement and commitment to the company. In no particular order, we offer 30 suggestions:
- Consider gamifying aspects of your workplace to engage and motivate workers (especially millennials)—use game-design thinking to make projects and tasks more fun. For example, hold weekly contests to see who can clean up the most data files.
- Encourage managers to handwrite thank-you notes to staff for performance or thoughtful workplace acts.
- Allow workers to spend paid hours doing volunteer work.
- Provide discounted dry-cleaning, with workplace pick-up and delivery.
- Arrange annual clothing swaps among employees — a fashion bazaar at the workplace!
- Form workplace teams for softball, volleyball, trivia contests, bowling, etc., and hold tournaments.
- Bring in a massage therapist once a week to provide free or low-cost 20-minute chair massages.
- Offer lunchtime yoga classes, Weight Watchers groups, and/or brown-bag lunches with educational speakers.
- Arrange for interest-free computer loans, whereby your company buys computers for employees and establishes a payment plan.
- Obtain discounts from local merchants, such as health clubs, parking lots, or office supply stores.
- Treat staff and their families to movie nights, sporting events, or live theatre.
- Allow workers the day off on their birthdays, or the option of a floating holiday.
- Encourage workers to come in costume on Halloween (have a contest!) and host a holiday-themed lunch.
- Permit workers to use Facebook on company time (for short periods) to demonstrate trust on the part of management.
- Start a lunchtime book club.
- Establish a worksite lending library — employees bring in books they've read and want to share.
- Hold an annual staff craft fair to let people showcase their hobbies.
- Set aside a "quiet room" with comfortable furniture and low lighting, where individuals can relax, think, and deal with stress in private.
- Organize short exercise breaks, such as 15-minute walks.
- Let employees tailor workspaces for their comfort, e.g., with standing desks, large balls instead of chairs or under-desk exercise pedals.
- Put out a suggestion box and discuss submissions at regular staff meetings.
- Keep your promises — let employees know they can trust management.
- Organize an annual staff talent show.
- Set up a fitness room with weights and exercise equipment.
- Extend unpaid parental leave — perhaps by as much as six months.
- Line up concierge services for your workers. For example, professionals to buy, wrap, and deliver gifts; make reservations for restaurants and entertainment; deliver groceries to the home.
- Allow employees to design some staff-retention policies.
- Have the entire company participate in a community service day.
- Help employees offset the costs of child care, senior care, and even pet care.
The size of your company, your corporate culture, and your budget will determine the employee-retention strategies you apply. But never let creativity be the limiting factor.