The Most Creative Employee Retention Tactics We’ve Seen

Employee turnover is a costly business. 

On average, replacing an employee who quits costs 21 percent of their salary, research found. Other studies peg the costs as exceeding 200 percent of the departing person’s salary.


The long and the short of it is: expenses add up when a new person is hired, onboarded, trained and given time to achieve peak productivity.

So what can be done?

A salary boost may not be the answer if a person is unhappy. Opportunities to bloom, work aligned with a purpose, and a workplace where they feel valued, are factors that keep employees feeling satisfied.

Some of the most creative tactics to retain employees promote:


At Relativity, a company that helps law firms and organizations discover the truth in litigation cases via its e-discovery software, a learning and development stipend is one of the retention strategies that helped make the company one of the best places to work in Chicago. “Each year, full-time Relativity employees nationwide receive a $3,000 stipend from the company for any kind of services, trainings or conferences that help with their personal or professional development,” said Matt Garvey, director of Talent Acquisition at Relativity.


“Monitoring and understanding turnover across our 1,000 restaurants is complicated but critical to business success,” said Josh Lipscomb, director of total rewards and talent analytics at Brinker International, a leading casual dining restaurant company. Lipscomb credits Limeade, Brinker’s well-being and engagement technology partner, for lowering restaurant turnover, “which helps create a better guest experience, and ultimately leads to better sales and profits.”

Limeade’s technology targets employees with customizable messages based on factors such as location, job type and risk areas. For example, a restaurant manager with diabetes might see suggested activities that include “Take a walking meeting with your team member” or “Make a healthy breakfast.” In a recent Limeade analysis, Brinker employees in the program had a 22.6 percent lower turnover rate than those not in it. Employees who engaged in 10 or more Limeade challenges had nearly half the rate of turnover as those who participated in five or fewer challenges.


Dismiss the outdated idea of waiting until employees get their first supervisor or manager title to place them in leadership training, said Shane Green, founder and president of SGEi, and a corporate culture consultant. One of the best rewards for young up-and-coming workers is to get the opportunity to work alongside or even travel with the boss or senior executives. “Allowing them the time to talk one-on-one, see how business gets done at the highest level, and the opportunity to wine and dine clients is a great way to keep your best and brightest,” Green said.

Recognition And Rewards

At cSubs, a provider of corporate knowledge management, a vacation incentive awards program celebrates success, said Julie Sue Auslander, president and chief cultural officer. Every quarter, the incentive awards program rewards employees with cSubs dollars and a pizza party. Successes include client compliments, client referrals, each year of service to the company, community service, finding a new employee, winning a new client, and reducing costs. After accumulating 5,000 cSub dollars worth of successes, these dollars can be exchanged for a vacation for up to six people anywhere in the US. For example, 8,000 cSubs dollars is a vacation with airfare for two. “We have a 90 percent employee retention rate and a 98 percent client retention rate (with Fortune100 clients) over 25 years. I attribute this in large part to our cSubs vacation program,” she said.


The MaidPro Franchise, whose corporate office has been named an Entrepreneur Top Places to Work, offers special trips. “Every 18 months, MaidPro home office staff and franchisees can opt-in to attend a trip to an exotic location around the world,” said Madeleine Park, franchise marketing coordinator. “The trips were created to allow people to travel, bond, learn, and grow. We have ventured to Belize, Peru, BVI and the Grand Canyon. The ability for our employees to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime trip is huge when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees.”

Companies are always adopting policies to create a positive corporate culture that assists in retaining employees. The best share a winning strategy, said Lisa A. Jarmoszka, HR Communication Consultant with Mercer PeoplePro, an on-demand HR and benefits consulting service for small and midsize businesses. “The bottom line is that a lot of the gimmicky stuff—like hosting free happy hours and having a pool table in the office—simply isn’t what makes the good people stay. It is positive culture and exemplary leadership/management.”

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