Retaining Employees with Creative Benefits

High salaries are not the number one reason for job retention among employees today. Ranking before salaries on the value scale is recognition: being appreciated for a job well done, a pleasant, fair working environment and the opportunity to move up within the company. Are these benefits or rights? Are they easily attained expectations or an anomaly? What can a company do when there is nowhere to promote a strong performer? It is time to think creatively.

With the job market holding its own right now it is an appropriate time to address benefits in the workplace. Companies are struggling for employee retention in some markets. To build or maintain a competitive advantage, to keep staff happy and in place, implement flexible and optional benefit programs.

Aside from the usual medical and vacation packages, benefits can take on many different forms.

1. A day off on your birthday or a flex day to celebrate your anniversary at the company.

2. Free pizza (food) on Fridays, heck, why not on Monday! Companies are rewarding their respected and appreciated employees with creative events like ice cream treat days or bring your dog to work day.

3. One company built a gourmet restaurant and offered haute cuisine meals at affordable prices.

4. Make the President or a senior executive available once a month or even 4 times a year for “town hall” meetings; a Q & A session with an executive team might be just as effective.

First and foremost, ask the employees what they would like to see. If the majority of the payroll is over 40, maybe child care flex time isn’t as important as elder care time. Do focus groups and surveys of your people to find out what matters to them the most. Also ask them what they know about that is already available. What they don’t know may surprise you.

5. Setting up personal pages on the intranet allows employees who work in separate buildings or cities to get to know each other a little more personally. This makes an employee a person with a face and a life, not just a voice on the phone.

Design a program that doesn’t just benefit certain employees, make it a smorgasbord of options, where everyone gets something they like.

6. Telecommuting and job share programs are greatly valued by commuter employees and those wishing to work limited hours.

7. You might want to establish an emergency fund for employees who fall upon bad times through no fault of their own. The fund raising activities for this fund can be fun to plan and execute.

8. Provide professional development in house training sessions. EAP providers offer a diversified variety of very reasonable one hour lunch and learn topics that appeal to all levels and professions.

9. Send staff to conferences, seminars, certification courses. Rotate attendance throughout the department so everyone benefits from the offerings.

10. If you would like to hone new leadership, communication or relationship building skills ask to be connected to a workplace coach.

11. With all the Buytopia and Groupon discount deals on the internet today you can purchase everything from get aways to Niagara Falls to canoe trips to maid service for cheap, cheap, cheap!

12. Arrange for in house Toastmaster meetings, Weight Watcher classes or noon hour yoga or massage sessions. For the price of an instructor, or possibly free, you provide a community of services conveniently and economically.

In surveys conducted over recent years, a workplace value that comes up over and over again is that employees just want to be heard. Employees want to know that what they have to say is important. They don’t expect all their contributions to be incorporated into the workplace but they feel valued when given a voice. After all, think about it, the employees are the people in the trenches, they know the inner workings of what many managers just see on the surface…ask, the answers to your problems might be sitting right in front of you..

Check with your insurance company and EAP provider to ascertain whether they can be flexible with employees who are covered under a spouse and therefore do not require full medical coverage. What else can companies offer? If you can think of a perk or benefit that would make your work life easier suggest it to your Human Resources department – you may be glad you did!

Colleen Clarke
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It