Competitive wages are all well and good, and a raise now and then doesn’t hurt either, but relying solely on monetary rewards as declarations of appreciation can be shortsighted. While salary may be one of the first things candidates consider in a job, it’s not always why they stick around.
For many people, it’s recognition. Research shows that 70 percent of companies with recognition programs enjoy higher retention rates, and 55 percent of people would leave a job for a company that recognized their contributions.
Besides, acknowledging someone for a job well done shouldn’t be a rarity but a regular occurrence. If you leave praise to annual reviews or special events, then you’re not showing employees that you value them enough.
How you recognize staff is entirely up to you, but the following is often a good place to start:
- Flex time. Depending on the hours of operation, offering employees some flex time, where they set their own hours, may be an option. This doesn’t reduce the total number of hours worked, but allows some flexibility to accommodate for personal matters.
- Time off. Everyone enjoys a little extra time off, even more so when it doesn’t count against his or her PTO. If you can swing it, give your team a half-day from time to time. And consider scheduling it on Fridays or before holidays for extra long weekends.
- Telecommuting. Though not feasible for every business, many employees can successfully and easily work from home on occasion. In fact, 50 percent of people hold jobs that would allow for telework on a partial basis.
- Summer hours. Let’s be honest, most people take it a little easier on Fridays come June to July. Why not institute summer hours and allow staff to get a jump on the weekend during the warmer months?
- Commuter benefits. Offer a monthly stipend for parking or public transit to help subsidize commuting expenses. The City of Minneapolis has two pre-tax options: one for qualified parking and another for its Metropass.
- Project days. Set aside a few days a year to allow employees to either work on pet projects or develop new ways of tackling how they work each day. Then, schedule a meeting to share the results with other team members.
- Extended lunches. A little flexibility at lunch is always appreciated. Extending the break by even 15 minutes could give employees enough time to head to the gym, eat at a place off the beaten path, or just recharge for the second half of the day.
- Wellness benefits. Like commuter benefits, reimbursing fitness-related purchases can be another way to subsidize common employee expenses. The benefit could go towards gym memberships, running shoes, or even bicycles.
- Dress code. Many businesses are already getting more lax with their dress codes. Just look at almost any startup, and you’ll find employees swapping khakis for jeans. If business attire isn’t optional, maybe institute casual Fridays for a while.
- Cultural rewards. Mix up perks by throwing in concert tickets, museum passes, or theater seats — not to mention, sporting events at Target Field, U.S. Bank Stadium, or Xcel Energy Center. We could all use a night out now and then.
- Laundry service. Few people look forward to laundry day, and even fewer look forward to folding laundry once it’s clean. Contract with a service to come to the office, pick up clothes, and return them fully laundered.
- Cleaning service. Enlist a professional cleaner to vacuum, mop, and dust your employees’ homes once a month. If someone already uses this type of service, offer to subsidize it up to the cost of your chosen cleaner.
- Meal service. There may be no such thing as a free lunch — unless, of course, you pay for it. Order in a meal for staff, but don’t make it a working lunch. Instead, use it as an opportunity for employees to get to know one another better.
- Field trip. A day away from the office is always appreciated. Schedule a field trip to either a client or vendor’s facility to learn more about the organizations you’re working with. Or, go the fun route, and take staff to a local brewery. We’ve got a lot of them around.
- Thanks. As clichéd as this may sound, it’s the little things that mean the most. Share some recognition for employee efforts on a regular basis by just saying “thanks.” But make sure to be specific and authentic with your gratitude.
While all businesses want to save a few bucks, scaling back on perks and benefits isn’t the way to do it. In fact, formalizing an appreciation program for your organization can increase job satisfaction, reduce turnover, and even help attract talent.