Today’s employers have learned quickly that incentives are key to retaining employees. But many of the standard rewards systems don’t seem to be pulling their weight. Companies try to incentivize employees to stay by offering flashy perks— like Google’s free gourmet cafeterias– or longevity bonuses, neither of which have been proven to impact retention rates. When wages are already high and benefits are equal, companies have to utilize even more creative employee retention ideas in order to see results.
From our perspective, success comes down to the crucial difference between getting something and earning something.
We’ve seen this difference play out again and again with promotional items in the employee rewards industry. You’d think a tote bag or a branded water bottle wouldn’t mean much to an on-the-fence employee. If someone hands you a branded pen at a trade show, it’s no big deal. But the moment you have to earn the pen, it brings in a far more significant value.
When is a pen more than just a pen? When you have to earn it.
Creative Employee Retention Ideas Using Earned Incentives
Incentives are only powerful when they’re tied to intrinsic motivation– when employees feel a sense of personal pride after receiving them. Free gifts from a company don’t mean much to employees who are on the fence about leaving. However, incentives that get people invested and personally motivated have a far greater influence on their decision to stay.
The following creative employee retention ideas can help you transform normal company hand-outs into incredibly valuable incentives:
Provide The Opportunity to Earn Custom Uniforms
The most effective incentive items are those that effectively come with a badge of honor. They differentiate achievers from their peers, and help these individuals to feel a constantly-renewing sense of pride every time they use or wear the item. Custom uniforms are, therefore, one of the most effective rewards we offer at Inproma.
It might seem surprising that a custom embroidered jacket could inspire significant increases in productivity, motivation, and overall engagement… but the team at Comcast discovered just that through decades of success with their Pyramid of Excellence program. The custom branded gear makes employees feel appreciated, recognized, and rewarded for their dedication to improving customer experience and personal productivity.
By providing custom uniforms to employees who’ve earned them, you effectively capitalize on the pre-existing system of bragging rights among your employees. That intangible value is worth the price of the branded apparel ten times over.
Host a Team Offsite or an Awardee Lunch
Most large companies provide opportunities for offsite fun, but these events become even more powerful when they take place during work hours and as a reward for a specific team-wide achievement. Taking your employees to the lake for an afternoon, to play laser tag, or even to a local park for a barbecue lunch, are all potential ideas for daytime offsites that go over well with corporate teams.
These activities say two things to your employees: First, that your company is doing well financially and you’re not feeling strapped for time or resources. This helps employees feel more comfortable considering a long-term future with you.
Second, and most importantly, you show employees that you value their wellbeing and work-life balance even during the context of normal work hours. You don’t have an “every second counts” attitude, but rather “every success counts.” Employees know they have the autonomy to get the job done each day, and can look forward to having fun from 2-5pm when they’ve earned it.
Create Valuable Mentorship Opportunities
One report on employee retention strategy extolls the benefits of a concept called “embeddedness”– factors that combine to make an employee want to remain in their current companies. One of the key elements of embeddedness is the link between employees and their companies and communities. Mentorships offer the perfect way to solidify that link and increase overall embeddedness and retention company-wide.
Many companies utilize internal mentorship during the onboarding process for new employees. We’re suggesting a slightly different use of the same strategy– making the opportunity to request a mentor an earned and incentivized activity. Achievers could earn the right to connect personally with an upper-level staff member of their choosing.
This strategy houses two birds with one nest. Your employees build personal relationships that tie them to your company in a more long-term way. Plus, they also have the opportunity to discuss and identify new career moves with your company by observing and interacting with their mentors. Both sides influence longer tenure and higher overall employee satisfaction.
Design an Ongoing System of High-Value Rewards
The best employee rewards programs are designed to be completely customized to your company’s needs. They’re designed to achieve specific company-wide metrics and include more individualized goals for each team and each employee. The key to getting creative with your rewards program is understanding that every department (and, to a certain extent, every individual) is motivated differently. How you design your program to accommodate these differences will determine how successful your program is in the long run.
One way to account for these differences is to reward teams through a company store setup. With each goal your employees achieve, they have the opportunity to “purchase” rewards of increasing value. This provides each employee with the reward items they appreciate most while preventing your need to stock extensive inventory over the long life of your program.
With a successful rewards program, every employee feels recognized. Each team feels valued and appreciated for their contributions to overall company success. Even more importantly, over the course of a long-standing employee recognition program, they’ll grow to feel more attached to your company and more likely to stay with you for the coming years.
The key to success with each of these creative employee incentive strategies is to ensure that there’s a strong element of earning rather than simply receiving. What you get for free has little to no value. But when tied to personal pride and achievement, even the most unexpected reward item can incentivize employee retention rates to skyrocket. Use these strategies alone or in combination to revamp your existing rewards program and achieve the longevity you’ve been waiting for.
Inproma is a premier employee rewards firm with over two decades of experience in creative employee recognition strategy. We’re dedicated to helping corporate leaders incentivize their staff through powerful systems of earned rewards. Interested in learning about how your own employee rewards program could be improved by our industry-leading approach? Let’s talk.