The Three R’s of Employee Retention: Part III

This is the last in a three-part series on how to hold on to your best employees.

By Rich Lindblom, YSN

In the first two parts of this series I talked about recognition and respect being the first two keys to retaining your good employees.  So now let’s move on to the last of my Three R’s when it comes to employee retention, and that is reward

If you read Part I, you might recall that I said money is not one of the keys to retaining your top employees, and I stand by that.  Are you confused yet?  How can I say out of one side of my mouth that you have to reward your employees, while at the same time saying out of the other side that money is not important?  Give me a couple of minutes of your time and I’ll try to explain.

For starters, when I said that money alone is not enough to retain your key employees, I was specifically referring to hourly wage or salary, because in my mind there is a huge difference between paying someone and rewarding them.  So when I talk about rewarding your employees that’s exactly what I mean: rewarding them. 

Taking it a step further, keep in mind that there are a whole lot of ways to reward someone without handing them money.  Free meals for the staff, a night out on the town, a weekend getaway, and movie or concert tickets are all great places to start.  Part of it will depend upon the size of your company, but large or small, it doesn’t really matter.

When it comes to rewarding your employees it’s as much about the thought as it is the reward itself.  For that reason, the more personalized you can make it the better it will be received.  Here are a couple of examples right off the top of my head:

  • Tickets to a local sports team if they’re a devoted fan.
  • Concert tickets for that employee’s favorite band.
  • Movie or theater tickets.
  • A bottle of nice wine.
  • A spa session or massage.

There really are an endless number of creative ways to reward your employees for their efforts, and the better you know your staff the better you can suit the reward to their particular interests.  The only limit is your imagination.

Now that I’ve given you some ideas of how to reward them, maybe you’re wondering why you should reward them.  Here are a couple of reasons for rewarding your good employees:

  • Create monthly or quarterly contests and reward the winner(s).
  • Set goals and reward those who reach them.
  • Reward employees for compliments or favorable reviews from customers.
  • Reward employees for going above and beyond their job duties.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that employee rewards are not a replacement for raises or promotions that are due or have been earned. Let me share a quick story with you. A couple of years ago one of our best employees asked if I had a few minutes to chat.  I invited him into my office and the conversation went something like this:

“Rich, I think I deserve a raise.” 

“I couldn’t agree more,” I replied with a sly smile. “By the way, did you actually look at your last paycheck?” 

“Honestly, no,” he said with a confused look.

“We thought the same thing, so we gave you a raise starting with your last paycheck.” 

He was happy to get the increae of course, but I think he was more pleased by the fact that we had recognized it before he asked. Which, if you really think about it, is just another way to reward a good employee.

It’s always gratifying when someone reaches out to me after reading one of my articles because it struck a chord with them. So if you have a question or comment (good or bad) about something I wrote about, please contact me at I’d love to hear from you.

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