Why Benefits and Bonuses are Not the Key to Employee Retention
August 23, 2022 | Mark Altman
As an executive or HR Leader, if you’ve ever tried to improve employee retention with one-size-fits-all methods, you’ve probably ended up frustrated and confused. When you’re offering great salaries, benefits, bonuses, and time off, and people still aren’t happy, what can you discern from that?
Human beings are wired to be motivated by rewards – so why don’t those rewards work the way we expect them to?
Extrinsically motivated behavior starts from a young age. We’re rewarded with gold stars and A+’s for good grades (and sometimes toys or money or treats for those straight A’s!). We get extra credit points for class participation. We get allowances for unloading the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, and walking the dog.
When we grow up, these extrinsic motivators continue – we get bonuses, promotions, and extra time off at work for a job well done.
Rewards and incentives can work – but only if they are the right ones.
As employers work to engage and motivate their employees and make them feel valued and appreciated, they must recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach is usually ineffective.
People are different – and are motivated by different things. One tool that can help us better recognize and appreciate our teams (and thus better retain them) is corporate languages of appreciation.
Often employers default to Gift-Giving to show appreciation: letting someone go home early, offering bonuses and promotions, etc. But here are three other corporate love languages that can help show your employees that you care.
- Words of Affirmation: Sharing specific positive feedback with your team; e.g., “Derrick, I appreciate all the effort you put into pulling together the new pitch deck. It looks polished and professional, and you did a great job.”
- Quality Time: Making time to meet with your team members one-on-one to demonstrate your care and investment in them and their work; e.g., “Lily, let’s talk about your future. Where do you want to be in a year or five years? How can I help you get there?”
- Acts of Service: taking care of tasks you know your team members don’t enjoy; e.g., “Hey Travis, I know uploading blogs to the website is one of your least favorite tasks. Let me take care of it this week.”
Taking the time to understand what motivates each member of your team is a sure-fire way to improve retention and engagement.
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