Human Resources

Seven cool ways to retain staff

Broede Carmody /

 

Staff turnover can be one of the biggest setbacks when running a business.

No one wants to see high-performing staff members snapped up by another company. That aside, spending time and money on filling vacant positions is a quick way to push up business costs.

Here are eight innovative things you can do to reduce employee churn.

 

1. Get your employees to take a holiday. No, a real holiday

 

Getting a staff member to go on vacation is a common way to tackle employee burn-out.

But in an age of smartphones and tablets, it is almost impossible for people to switch off completely. How many times have you been guilty of checking emails at night, or while you’re meant to be relaxing on the beach with friends and family?

To tackle this, one employer in the US has decided to give his staff members a $9000 travel stipend when they go on holiday – but there’s a catch.

Before they are allowed to receive the cash, staff must promise to not do any sort of work for the company. That means no checking emails or answering work-related calls.

Bart Lorang, the co-founder and chief executive of software company FullContact, says the policy has been in place for a few years now and allows his staff to come back from their holidays refreshed and ready to pour 100% of their energy into their job.

Small businesses probably don’t have the extra cash lying around to pay their employees to take this sort of holiday, but it’s worth considering whether your staff really are switching off when they are meant to be.

 

2. Grab a bite to eat with your team and brainstorm new ideas

 

Drinks manufacturer Capi Sparkling rewards its staff with a team lunch each Thursday.

Founder Pitzy Folk told SmartCompanygroup lunches are a great way for his team to come together and develop new ideas.

“Most of our business is done over lunch,” he says.

“It’s the best way to do business. Business is all about integrity and you can’t fake that, you’ve got to live it. You can’t do everything on your own so you have to share the rewards and also the pain.”

Group lunches are a great way for new team members to feel welcomed into the company. In addition, it’s a good tactic for stopping people from having lunch at their desk.

 

3. Celebrate your successes over a glass of wine

 

Online gift retailer and Smart50 finalist Hardtofind likes to ensure its office is always stocked with a good bottle of wine.

“We have a wine fridge and after around 4pm we start thinking about having a glass of wine,” co-founder Trudi Jenkins told SmartCompany.

The regular catch-ups are a good way for staff to regroup after a long day and ask how each other’s day went.

The wine fridge also creates a dedicated space where the team can celebrate a major milestone or discuss a particular issue. 

 

4. Buy a ping pong table

 

Ping pong tables aren’t just for young tech startups and big corporates trying to be cool. In fact, there are lots of things small businesses can do to make their workplace more enjoyable for their staff.

Sports and racing website Punters aims to do just that, with a full games room and free coffee in order to make the office as fun and relaxing as possible.

Founder Luc Pettett told SmartCompanymaking his staff feel at home after relocating the office from Maroochydore to Melbourne was the key to retaining them.

“Our environment is really important,” he says.

“And attracting good talent meant moving from a regional area, as much as it was nice to be there in our incubator period.”

 

5. Sweat it out in a group fitness class

 

Buying your employees food and the occasional drink is an easy way to win their hearts, but it’s also important to pay attention to health and fitness. 

Australian Fashion Labels in Adelaide says its success lies in team members working together and building strong friendships.

Co-founder Melanie Flintoft says building a strong team takes time – however a good tactic is to do group activities such as a fitness class before work or to unwind after a long day.

It’s for this reason that the business has set aside some space in the office for employees to do yoga.

“We love our jobs and we want everyone to love them as much as we do,” Flintoft says.

“You attract good people by having a good culture.”

 

6. Reward your staff for a long stint with the company

 

Penny Spencer, the founder of Spencer Travel, retains staff with the reward of earning a one carat diamond.

“I thought, ‘What would I like to get when I’ve been with a company for a long time?’” Spencer told SmartCompany.

“Diamonds are my best friend, so I thought diamonds. And really, a one carat diamond is ten thousand dollars. An investment of a thousand dollars a year is not a lot of money when you put it like that.”

 

7. Do something a bit different

 

One chief executive in the US has decided to make the happiness of his staff a top priority, but with a twist.

Instead of simply giving them a pay rise, Chieh Huang – the founder of online retailer Boxed – has set aside more than $1 million of his company’s money to make sure his employees’ children are sent to college.

While footing the education bill for staff is not something many small businesses will be able to do, it is certainly worth thinking about how you can make sure employees feel valued at home as well as at work.

 

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Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior SmartCompany reporter. Before this, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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