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How to Retain Good Employees

September 2010
How to Retain Good Employees

 Since training new employees is costly and productivity slows down during the learning curve, attracting and retaining quality talent should be a high priority for any business, large or small.

            Beyond just paying higher salaries and providing health insurance, businesses can offer perks that can persuade great employees to stay, increase company morale, and boost productivity.

            Below is a list of some of the most popular and innovative perks that employers are offering around the country. Although not every benefit will fit every business model, just offering something beyond a weekly paycheck will set your business apart and keep your employees motivated and happier. Most of these benefits cost very little to implement from an employer’s perspective.

Rewards program for exceptional service

Except for commissioned employees, most workers don’t receive a direct benefit when they go above and beyond their professional duties. Some businesses have instituted a system to reward employees for exceptional performance with gift cards or other non-monetary incentives. Winning a gift card to a fancy restaurant on the company’s dime is something that an employee won’t soon forget, and the hard work that made it happen should continue. 

401(k) Plans

Many companies offer this tax-sheltered investment account for their employees. Workers can invest a portion of their pay into their 401(k) account. Employers pay for the cost of setting up the plan and its administration. Although employers may match a part or all of the employee’s contributions, it is not necessary. 401(k) plans are an excellent way to help employees plan for their future.

Tuition reimbursement

Assisting employees achieve their academic goals is another way to raise employee morale and also encourage employees to work towards advancement within the company. Employers who offer this perk typically offer a certain amount of money per year to assist employees with their tuition costs. An employee can finish an undergraduate degree that had been put off or obtain a graduate degree in a relevant area. Many universities offer part-time evening and weekend programs, so employees can maintain a full-time work schedule while going to school.

Working from home: telecommute/e-commute

Previously, employers have typically been reluctant to allow employees to work from home because of the potential for employees to provide less than a full day of work. Recent studies, however, show that productivity of at-home employees either stays constant or increases. Many tasks are easily done via computer and telephone, so staying connected to the office from home a few days a week is not usually a problem.  The flexibility of allowing an employee to spend more time with their families and less time commuting is always a welcome one.

Flex time (instead of sick time)

Employers are increasingly moving away from sick days and towards flexible personal time off. By not forcing employees to use “sick days” for teachers’ conferences or other non-medical appointments, and offering personal days, businesses are making it possible for employees to have a more honest relationship with employers. Rather than encourage an employee to use his best “sick voice” on the phone when he needs a day off, many employers offer flex days that allow employees to take a paid day off for any reason.

Concierge service

A growing number of businesses are making concierge services available for their employees. Companies like Two Places at One Time or Best Upon Request provide concierge services to businesses as a benefit to their employees. Employees can have their dry cleaning picked up, packages delivered across town, restaurant reservations made, and concert tickets purchased, all with a phone call. Helping to keep associates on top of their personal tasks will help them keep on top of their work-related tasks.

Gym membership

An old-school way to battle higher health care costs is to stay healthy in the first place. Companies that offer gym memberships for their employees (and encourage them to use it) can benefit from a more energetic and healthy workforce. Many gyms offer corporate accounts that can accommodate any size business.

Community service days

Because of hectic work schedules and busy home life, many people who would love to volunteer in their community simply cannot find the time. A growing number of businesses allow employees to have a paid day of volunteer service. This perk allows associates to fulfill their passion for volunteering and is a great way to increase employee satisfaction and help the community at the same time.

Bartering services with other companies

An easy and affordable perk that a business can offer is an exchange program with other local businesses. For example a restaurant may offer discounts for the employees of a gym in exchange for discounted membership for the restaurant employees. This way businesses around town can work together to offer a variety of perks to their employees for little cost.

Company outings

The concept of the company picnic has been a part of American working culture for a long time. It’s a staple among many companies. Although a picnic is not technically an employee perk, updated versions of company outings come pretty close. Many work teams have regular bowling, movie or restaurant nights. Some companies encourage associates to participate in sporting leagues with the company team. The fun atmosphere increases morale and helps foster a more cooperative working environment.

            Having quality employees in your corner is essential to keep a business running smoothly and profitably. Offering the right incentives can attract the right people, keep them satisfied, and ramp up the productivity all at the same time.

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