The American workplace has changed. For better or worse, hiring the right people is no longer the holy grail it used to be—it’s just a start. Now, more than ever, employee recognition is a key ingredient for reduced turnover, increased profitability, and overall success.
Successful business leaders will tell you that employee recognition is not just a nice thing to do. It’s an indispensible part of the mix when it comes to making employees want to work for you, and stick around. High employee turnover has a negative effect on multiple areas of business. For example, with increased turnover comes lost productivity and time, higher training and recruiting costs, and diminished morale and reputation. All of these add up and contribute to shrinking margins.
Let’s take a look at some trendsetting companies that have gone above and beyond to create an environment in which workers thrive. They have found a winning formula for employee recognition and other related tactics to keep and retain their people.
Looking for a great place to work? GoDaddy, the internet domain registrar and web-hosting company, encourages a casual work environment where workers can truly have fun and be themselves. The company sets aside funds every month that are used for off-site activities and events during paid work hours. For example, every month the company takes employees on expeditions such as whitewater rafting, cooking courses, and even trapeze classes.
Okay, so performing on the trapeze with your co-workers may not be your cup of tea, but every year the company invites its employees to do something fun and unusual. One year, GoDaddy conducted a talent show in which employees went to different offices in a karaoke competition with winners chosen by employee-judges and given a $1,000 cash prize. According to the company’s chief human resources officer, "Go Daddy has created a culture that values its employees and their ability to move up the ranks while growing professionally … be prepared to work hard and have fun.”
Software maker SAS Institute says, “If you treat employees as if they make a difference, they will make a difference.” Employee rewards at the company, which develops and markets a suite of analytics software, include subsidized Montessori child care, on-campus day care, unlimited sick days, a healthcare center where employees can receive treatment at no cost, and intramural sports.
The company, which has an annual employee turnover of about 4 percent amid an industry with a 20 percent norm, encourages its employees to achieve a real work-life balance. It makes it easy for workers to have lunch with their kids, with a cafeteria that has kid-friendly food like hot dogs shaped like octopi (that’s plural for octopus—who knew?), because having lunch with your children helps workers stay connected to their families. While the technology world is famous for its employees working very long hours, SAS asks its employees to work no more than 37-1/2 hours each week, and each and every one of them gets their own private office.
Named one of the top places to work by Fortune magazine, Genentech proves that it is the little things that count. The company offers free dog-sitting for its employees (Aww!). They also provide a lot of other onsite services for employees such as haircuts, weekly car washes and discounts to local attractions like the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and Disneyland.
The San Francisco company provides a free company bus to simplify the morning and evening commute, and also has a free fitness center so that they can fit in a workout before or after work or even during the day despite busy schedules. With 31 paid holidays and vacation days each year, Genentech staff can also telecommute and create flexible working schedules with the result that 92 percent of workers say they are able to take time off any time they need it with no problems.
Hasbro not only creates toys that are loved by kids the world over, it places a special emphasis on making sure that employees have the opportunity to care for and bond with their children. “Our purpose is the make the world a better place for children and their families, so we want to ensure our policies, and the way we treat our employees, give our people the support and flexibility they need to do what’s best for their families,” explained Dolph Johnson who heads up human resources at the company.
New parents, including fathers, same-sex partners and adoptive parents, are allowed to take up to 10 weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave. Birth mothers also receive up to 8 weeks of short-term disability benefits giving them a total of up to 18 weeks of paid time off. In addition, the company offers a generous vacation policy giving even new employees three full weeks of paid vacation in their first year instead of having to wait for five years as an employee.
Company culture is all about employee happiness at online shoe and clothing store Zappos. Based in Las Vegas, the company prides itself on providing an outstanding workplace with standout benefits including above-average medical, dental and vision insurance.
Some of the special perks designed to recognize workers range from pet insurance (as previously stated … Aww!) to pre-paid legal counseling and, of course, a 40 percent discount on shoes accessories from the Zappos webstore. The lucky people at Zappos also enjoy a delicious daily assortment of freshly prepared foods for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, all provided onsite. And when they’ve had their fill of good food, they can scamper off for a bit of rest and relaxation in onsite nap rooms that are comfortably appointed and at the ready for a quick break whenever needed. How's that for feeling appreciated?
SC Johnson & Son, the company that makes iconic household brands such as Glade, Pledge and Windex, takes employee recognition and appreciation seriously. For example, concierges provide services to workers such as sending packages and flowers, picking up groceries, running errands, and cleaning their house (no doubt using famous SC Johnson products like Scrubbing Bubbles!). They will even take an employee’s car in for an oil change or stand in line for concert tickets so workers don’t have to.
Recognition is designed to be more than simply a form of kindness. Employees find that they are actually able to enjoy their lives outside of work more because they have more time to do it. They can dedicate time to family, friends and personal pursuits, leaving them more refreshed and better able to take on the stress of the workplace.
Certainly, not every company can offer the kinds of programs these ones do. But every employer can place an emphasis on its employees in a way that shows that they recognize them and value them. That’s an important start, and in today’s highly competitive world, it is not no longer an option. It’s a required ingredient for success.