5 Unexpected Employee Retention Strategies That Really Work

3 min read
Apr 13, 2015

iStock_000060752198_SmallThe high costs of turnover — from recruiting, hiring, and training expenses — mean that companies across the country are doing whatever they can to keep their employees on board. High employee retention rates means that your workforce is generally happy in their position, but that doesn’t just come down to the salary you give them to be there.

A study at Monster gave a clear message that employees want more:

  • 82% of employees report that their employer is doing “nothing” to retain them

  • 88% of employees see “great value” in corporate wellness programs

  • But only 20% of these employees have access to such programs

Employees reportedly spend about 60% of their time at work, and so the workplace has to put in effort to make that time worth it with all kinds of perks under the “corporate wellness” umbrella. And that does not mean a once-a-year party; this is a full-time cultural commitment to your employees. These five companies have some out-of-the-box ideas for employee retention strategies in this vein.

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Spring Cleaning With Evernote

Digital note-taking service Evernote knows that its hard-working employees are spending valuable time in their office, when they could be at home taking care of basic errands and chores. To pay them back for their work, Evernote sends a cleaning service to every single one of the 250 full-time employees' homes twice a month. Yes, that means everyone from the executives down to the office assistants.

My Maid Service: Training Employees to Leave

Now this may seem counter-intuitive, but My Maid Service is investing in its employees’ career dreams — and no, that career does not have to be with My Maid Service. In exchange for agreeing to a two-year term at the company, My Maid Service offers each employee customized career training and free classes at local community colleges. In addition, if an employee desires a career in marketing, for example, the company will offer assignments helping with My Maid Service campaigns. As a result, the company’s turnover rate went from 300% to 0%.

Gymboree Always Has Time for Recess

Remember how in grade school you made all your best friends playing tag or swinging on the tire swing at recess? Gymboree children’s clothing company is hoping to mimic that but for adults at work. Every Thursday, Gymboree employees have a recess where everyone goes outside and, yes, actually plays recess games, like hopscotch and foursquare, hoping to build a sense of community and friendships in the workplace.

Killer Infographics & Chesapeake Energy Corp. Go Extreme

Instead of just offering gym memberships, Killer Infographics and Chesapeake Energy bring the gym to its employees. And we’re not talking some small, stuffy, treadmill-filled room. Both companies have a rock-climbing wall, and Chesapeake Energy tops it off with a sand volleyball court and an Olympic-sized swimming pool where it offers employees SCUBA certification.

And after a good climb? Killer Infographics has two kegerators where it offers employees locally brewed beer.

Paid Vacations at Motek, for Real

Anywhere you work, you’re going to get paid vacation (hopefully). But software company MoTek wants to make sure that time off is really a vacation and not used for errands and doctor visits, which get their separate time. Every employee gets one month paid time off, and MoTek gives them an extra $5,000 — with a catch. The employee must show that that $5,000 went to an actual vacation, a cruise, flights, hotels, all-inclusives, or some other rejuvenating experience, because the company knows the real value of time off.

Companies are coming up with zany but effective ways to increase employee retention, and if you’re not doing the same, you’re falling behind.


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