4 Weird But Effective Employee Retention Tools


As any savvy marketer knows, it costs between 4 and 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. But as any HR manager will tell you, that same rule of thumb also applies to staffing and personnel. With many CEOs now reporting that new hires require an average of 6 months to get truly up to speed and productive on the job, employee retention and satisfaction programs have become critical elements in employers’ HR management strategy.

Alongside standard employee retention programs, many businesses are now offering non-conventional tools as well — unique hooks that set them apart from other companies in their industry … and hopefully, keep competitors from luring away their best talent.

Here are a few of our favorite non-conventional employee retention tools:

1. Conduct “stay” interviews.

According to a recent how-to article in The Wall Street Journal, in addition to performing exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving, employers should conduct “stay” interviews to find out what motivates longer-tenured employees to stay on. The article advises employers to ask such questions such as:

  1. Why did you come to work here?
  2. Why have you stayed?
  3. What would make you leave?
  4. And what are your non-negotiable issues?
  5. What about your managers?
  6. What would you change or improve?

Of course, the insights gained from this type of interview can only help you if you put them into action. Make sure employees realize that they’ve been truly heard by tailoring brand new employee retention programs and/or giving existing programs a facelift based on the feedback you’ve received.

2. Offer unlimited vacation time.

Anyone who’s been working in a multi-generational office environment for any time at all knows that Generations X, Y and Z have turned the concept of “traditional” on its head. Employees from these age groups tend to migrate toward companies that promote work-life balance, autonomy, and fun.

Surprisingly, offering employees unlimited time off does not create slackers, according to this article from Fast Company. The result is just the opposite, with companies like HubSpot reporting that giving employees the flexibility to choose for themselves how much vacation time they take has improved office efficiency and productivity. Putting employees on the vacation honor system seems to empower them and invoke a deep-seated sense of responsibility, with many reporting that they actually put in more hours and work harder with unlimited vacation time than they did when they only had the traditional two weeks off each year.

3. Make one day a week a “no meetings” day.

This concept has been around for a few years now, but it’s still one of our favorites. It’s ironic that the same technology advances that were invented to help us get answers more quickly, collaborate more easily, and be more efficient often seem to merely thwart us from actually producing our end product.

Rather than helping us to actually “get sh*t done,” the obligation to constantly interface with colleagues and clients — via Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts and the like — has had a serious negative impact on our overall productivity.

By implementing a no-meetings Wednesday or a no-meetings Thursday, many companies like Asana report an increase in the number of completed tasks per employee.

4. Encourage naps.

Multiple studies have proven that short 20- or 30-minute naps can have an incredibly rejuvenating effect on the human brain. Seizing on the opportunity to help employees be more creative, efficient and productive, corporations large and small are now offering snooze-friendly work policies and even employee “nap rooms.”

According to this article featuring Arianna Huffington, nap rooms in offices will soon be as common as conference rooms, with companies like The Huffington Post, Google, Uber, Zappos, Capital One Labs, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Ben & Jerry’s already fully on board with the nap-room trend.

Don’t Ignore These Conventional Employee Retention Strategies

Alongside the above admittedly unconventional strategies, employers should continue to offer the more traditional or classic employee retention and satisfaction approaches, including:

  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Remote work days
  • Team building events and activities
  • Public recognition and reward for good work
  • Performance goals and reviews
  • Quarterly staff celebrations
  • On-the-job cultivation, development and advancement programs
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Involving employees in decision making, strategy and planning
  • Wellness programs
  • Workplace diversity
  • Better communication from the top-down

In the end, while higher salaries or better benefits are often quoted as primary reasons why employees choose to change jobs, it’s the complete package — including how well she’s treated, the freedoms she’s offered, and the level of responsibility she’s given — that determines whether or not an employee will stay on with your company.

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