Top 10 Outside the Box Ideas for Employee Retention

Let’s talk employee retention. Is there anything more frustrating than spending weeks vetting, hiring, and on-boarding a candidate only to have him or her leave after a month’s work?  

We think not. 

The cost of finding a new employee can be as little as 15% for mid-level employees to up to a massive 213% for C-level staff.  But there are secondary costs such as slowing down your team, degrading morale, and planting a seed of doubt with other employees.  

In 2021, if you are in the market for a new employee, you may notice that the current market is highly candidate driven.  That means job seekers are in the driver’s seat.  Applicants are getting multiple offers from different companies, shopping around for the best deal, procuring counter-offers, and “ghosting” hiring managers in the middle of the interview process. 

Couple this climate with the millennial generation’s love of “job hopping,” and your company may find it nearly impossible to find and retain the right people. 

All this turnover begs the question, how the heck can you keep staff in 2021?  These days, stock options and personal development opportunities are minimum requirements.  If you want to attract and keep the best of the best on your team, you need to step up your employee perks.  What are you offering that other companies don’t have?  What keeps your employees happiest for the longest? 

Join us as we explore some of the most cutting-edge employee retention programs and ideas on the globe.

This is Uplift’s Top 10 Outside the Box Ideas for Employee Retention:

Hold Office Friendly Competitions or Challenges 

Remote teams require unique solutions to foster cohesion and togetherness because you’re just not “together”. We’ve talked about motivating your remote team on our blog, but how do you build office camaraderie and dare I say “fun” into the virtual office?  Try an office-wide competition or challenge.  For example, the Uplift Recruitment team committed to doing 10,000 steps per day for the month of September to raise money for Cerebral Palsy. These events can bring people together and give them something to talk about besides work and lockdown. 

Encourage and Facilitate Public Recognition

Most people won’t stick around long in a job where they are not recognised for their hard work.  Since we are no longer working in a physical space, a corner office or even a promotion isn’t a visible form of recognition.  That’s why today’s remote teams need to build-in their own public employee recognition systems.  Try creating a Slack “kudos” thread to make people feel connected, seen, and part of a team.  Social media shout outs can also be awesome because they are free and make employees feel the love while letting their colleagues know about their good work. However you do it, make continuous feedback and the ability to improve a part of your team’s everyday work.  It’s too late if you don’t find out until the end of the quarter performance review.  

Expand Your Perks

As we said above, stock options and personal development opportunities are practically expected, so it’s time to get creative when offering perks.  Some ideas include boxes of healthy snacks for standing desks, childcare, or housekeeping stipend.  One other thing modern day employees love: unlimited vacation time.  According to data from Indeed, jobs offering unlimited paid time off spiked by over 100% from 2015 to 2019.  What can you offer that will set you apart?

Send the Message that You Care with Health and Wellness Programs 

Wellness and mental health is a massive issue right now due to the pandemic and lockdowns across Australia.  Companies that create an environment that promotes mental and physical health show that they care about their employees. Another upside is that these companies will experience less loss of productivity due to sick days and have motivated, effective employees. Tying in with #1, a lot of teams really love fitness challenges.  Whether that’s a certain amount of steps per day or checking in with a “Wellness Buddy” every week, there are cheap and easy options for fostering health.  On the more costly side, a few companies have given employees workout gear, access to fitness apps, or free psychological counselling. 

 Plan a Remote Team Building Event or an Excursion (Post lockdown of course) 

Start with a virtual happy hour, but take it to the next level by having a theme, playing a game, or sending out a special cocktail in advance.  Snacknation has a whole range of super fun ideas to make here.  Another idea is to send remote employees somewhere local with a gift card to a brewery or activity.  Bonus points if all your remote employees do something similar at the same time in their respective cities.  Be sure to share the experience on social media!

Give Them Swag

Everyone loves swag so be sure to send your team (and especially new hires) branded stationery, hats, shirts, or even frisbees to make them feel like part of the team.  Don’t have a budget for customized gear?  Look in your storage areas for leftovers from conferences or meetings that could be repurposed as employee swag.




Celebrate ‘Out of Office Time’

Show your team it’s ok to take a break by showcasing team members’ holidays.   Send out an email mentioning who’s on vacay or post on social media (#wishwewerethere).  However you do it, creating a culture that encourages enjoying life could be a reason that someone stays with your company.  Too many people don’t take holidays or annual leave because they feel guilty or like they are letting their team down.  Make it the norm to take a holiday and talk about it with teammates so employees never feel the need to skip town (and your role) to get away.  

Let Your Employees Decide 

Feedback is a two-way street.  Ask for feedback from your employees.  Find out what they love about your on-boarding process, working for your company, and what motivates them to get up and do the work they do every day.  Offering them a say in how the company is run will make them more likely to commit to your organization for the long run.  On the flip side, give them plenty of frequent feedback.

Let Employees “Play,” Collaborate, and Fail to Solve Big Problems

Create an environment where learning is valued, failure happens, and it’s what you do with it that counts.  This can mean allotting time for professional development or relevant courses, giving Masterclass access, or doing anything else that encourages constant growth.  Let them learn, but also let them fail.  The mistakes we make are often the biggest learning tools of our lives. 

Use the Right Technology to Make Things Simple 

If your business is operating remotely, you need to take a good hard look at your workflows and processes – from onboarding to team communications – and make sure they are seamless, easy to use, and impactful.  This extends to the technology you use.  Choosing the right software and making sure your employees know when and how to use it is key.  Make sure you don’t over complicate things.  If your internal comms is on Slack, don’t start messaging someone on a project management platform.  The KISS (keep it simple stupid) method when it comes to technology and apps will be appreciated by your whole team. 

Could Better, More Unique Perks Be the Answer to Your Employee Retention Problem?

While long term employee retention is harder than ever to achieve, it is also more crucial than in the past.  What matters more than the strength, experience, and knowledge of your team?  Retaining your best employees means saving money, time, and hassle. Plus, you hold on to all the learnings and experience gained over the years that is specific to your company. 

Now it’s your turn, implement the tips above based on your company’s own unique identity and traits that make it a great place to work.  Whether you’re online or in person, make it your mission to create a supportive workplace where employees feel recognized, understood, and loved.  If you do, you’ll have no problem making your best employees “lifers.” 

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