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Employee Retention Helped By Better Internal Communications, Shiny Hooks

An innovative approach to employee retention is to offer perks employees will talk about and appreciate.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin, President and CEO of Tribe, Inc., an Atlanta, GA-based internal communications agency has found interesting ways of attracting and keeping key employees.

She believes one of the keys to employee retention is through what she calls "shiny hooks" and employee engagement.

Baskin says, “We encourage companies to consider offering at least one or two shiny hooks.  These are the benefits that capture the imagination and foster (recruiting and) retention. They’re the things people will talk about, both inside and outside the company.”
Shiny Hooks: When current employees are weighing other options - and when job candidates are considering your company - salary is not the only driver. Increasingly, and especially as the economy improves, people care about finding purpose in their work, rewards beyond just their paycheck, and a day-to-day work environment that suits them well. (This is particularly true for younger employees -- and generational differences are real and should be addressed.)
The examples below are all real "shiny hooks" benefits offered by actual companies:

  • Employees being allowed to bring their dogs to work;
  • On-site clinic with nurse on duty for sick children, so parents don’t have to miss work;
  • College tuition reimbursement for employees’ kids;
  • Friday afternoon chair massages by licensed massage therapist;
  • Employees encouraged to turn cell phones off during weekends and evenings;
  • Concierge to run employee errands;
  • Company-paid monthly housecleaning;
  • Percentage of workweek to devote to independent projects;
  • Personal stylist to shop for and plan wardrobe; and
  • Quiet room for mediation or naps.

An important thing to know about shiny hooks: Many employees may not even avail themselves of some of these outside-the-box benefits, but they will know management is listening and appreciate the creativity.  It also will drive creativity in them, as they might be inspired to themselves suggest the next great idea of recruiting, retention and benefits.
And as other companies take away benefits - such as Yahoo putting the kibosh on telecommuting - something as simple as that may become your shiny hook. Highly valued employees - especially those in highly competitive markets like Silicon Valley - have come to expect flexibility, so be the company that offers it.
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: Similarly, a key to retention in the improving economy is to be mindful of the fact that other employment options will be opening up for employees. Companies that want to get a jump on preventing turnover should ramp up engagement efforts now. Engaged employees not only are less likely to leave; they're also more productive and have lower absenteeism:

  • Recognition and rewards can go a long way towards increasing employee engagement. People want to know their contributions are noticed and valued.
  • More employees now, particularly from younger generations, place a priority on meaningful work and on working for companies that are somehow making the world a better place. Volunteer programs, charitable contributions and sustainability programs can help employees feel like their company is making a difference. 
  • Meaningful work can be as simple as employees having a clear understanding of the company's vision and values and seeing how the decisions and actions they take each day support those larger goals.
  • Studies also show that employees are most likely to leave a company when they have a bad boss. Companies wanting to counteract that possibility should be offering management training, leadership development and other support to their people managers, particularly if those managers were promoted out of the rank and file with no previous management experience.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin can be reached at The company partners with corporate communication and HR departments to help them both set-up and execute internal communication strategies.


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