A reader writes…
I’m noticing more and more businesses are allowing employees to telecommute as opposed to working in an office. How can I retain my top talent, knowing this is happening and likely enticing my employees to leave?
I have to admit, in today’s world of the Internet, web meetings, web cams, and social media, the idea of working from home (or ANYWHERE for that matter) is becoming more and more the norm. While there is something to be said about a traditional corporate culture – where everyone wears a fancy suit and shows up to the office for a set schedule – giving employees the option or flexibility to work remotely definitely has its benefits and long-term advantages. Employees feel appreciated and more productive knowing they no longer have to sit in traffic, pay for dry cleaning, or take additional time away from family to commute. Likewise, businesses reap the benefits of having more productive and happier employees, while at the same time, they can reduce or even eliminate office space. For some companies, this is an option. For others, it is not.
If allowing employees to telecommute is not an option for your business, here are some alternative “perks” and ideas you may want to explore. While some may seem obvious, they’re sure to boost morale and keep employees actively engaged!
- Guest Speakers / Seminars – Remember “assembly day” as a kid in school? It was always something we looked forward to. Assemblies broke up the standard routine, gave us a chance to get together with our peers, and were either entertaining or offered some insight about something new and different. I think the same holds true in the working world. Employees crave motivation, inspiration, and a slight change to the day-to-day drill. By inviting a guest speaker to deliver a pep talk or share some type of insight – it may be the key to spicing things up. Get those wheels turning! There are several resources you can tap into. In fact, my friends at Power Training Institute (PTI) host training sessions geared toward managers and staff that you may want to consider!
- Flex Schedules – Okay, maybe you don’t want your staff working away from the office, but what about offering a non-traditional work schedule such as job sharing, part-time, four 10-hour days, etc.? Finding a good work-life balance is very difficult for some people. The more you can help with this by offering options and thinking outside of the box, the better. As long as the work is getting done and employees are not taking advantage of the process, I think you’ll find an increase in productivity and overall loyalty. And isn’t that your ultimate goal? Be careful to show fairness here; you shouldn’t offer this option to one of your employees if you can’t offer it to all.
- Mentoring Opportunities – Being given an opportunity to speak with executives or department leaders within your organization may be what some of your employees are looking for in order to gain insight about the business or industry, obtain career advice, learn success stories, etc. That, plus the fact that this is a FREE option… makes it a win-win for everyone!
- Annual Performance Reviews / Regular feedback – I keep making “school” references, but performance reviews are kind of like “report cards.” Without them, employees are in the dark – not knowing whether or not they are doing a good job. Keep those lines of communication open – ALWAYS!
- Offer Allowances – Does your company allow employees to take business associates or clients to lunch? Sporting Events? Concerts? Or special events? Sometimes client entertainment can “close the deal,” but if an employee has to pay for such opportunities… it likely won’t happen. By setting aside a certain budget for these types of events or activities, you may see an increase in business and your employees will enjoy being a part of the fun!
- Office Space –Having an actual office (with a door) is like a status symbol. Being given an office is like being given a medal that says “V.I.P!” If you have a hard-working / deserving employee who currently sits in a cubicle, why not surprise him or her one day with an upgrade in “real estate.” Let them know how much you appreciate their work and contribution and reward them with an actual office – if space is available, of course! You will feel like a hero, and your employee will feel like a superstar!
- More Responsibilities – I know, you’re thinking “Huh? How is more work (AKA “responsibility”) an incentive to retain good employees?” In all actuality, people often seek more responsibility and take pride in the fact that you trust them to take charge. Feel out the situation and see if your employee has a particular area of interest that you can help them pursue by assigning them a new task or project.
- Salary Increase – If you’ve got the budget…money talks!
There are a number of perks or incentive programs you can explore, but hopefully this list gives you a few ideas to ponder. I’d love to hear any additional suggestions. Managers, what have you done to retain top talent? Employees, aside from being glad to have a job, what prevents you from jumping ship?
Look forward to your comments!