And most of them don’t cost a bunch

OK hiring managers here’s the deal…..your employees aren’t loyal.  They will take the recruiter’s call when it comes and if someone were to offer them another 5k-10k in salary they will probably leave.  The classic loyalty programs are gone or fading – pensions (gone), 401k contributions (dwindling), healthcare (ummmm, going…), career paths (not so much), education reimbursement (gone) – enough?  So, how in the world do you earn loyalty in today’s fast moving opportunity rich market?  This is a collection of ideas that I’ve heard of, learned, experienced, and dreamed up over the years.  Most of them won’t cost you very much – but the results are priceless.

  1. Playin’ Hooky – I’m taking credit for this one.  I have a team that consists of 100% moms.  Summer in Colorado is simply amazing and those few times when you “play hooky” are just so special – especially for the kiddos.  So, my team is working 4/10s this summer.  They get a “play hooky” day each week – not a Monday or Friday – to plan playtime with their family and they are LOVING it.
  2. You’re fired for a day – This is purely spontaneous.  You may have a team member who is struggling with their marriage; or maybe they’ve been working long hours to prepare for the next board meeting.  Why not give them the day off?  It works best when you get them as soon as they come in – ask them what they would do if they weren’t working today and then tell them to go do it.
  3. Take me out to the ball game – You don’t need to buy season tickets – you can just buy a 20 game pack to the Rockies but do it.  Baseball is the true definition of summer – give out the tickets, or take employees with you.  Even better if your marketing group has season tickets – maybe you can grab some of their games – it’s worth a shot.
  4. Date Night – Let’s face it, your people are working hard, they have relationships that take a back seat when they are working hard.  Why not recognize that their partners are part of who they are and buy them a date?  I would suggest asking your employee for suggestions so that the date is something their partner will enjoy.  The message that results is – “we know that we get a lot of them – but you are an important part of our company as well.”
  5. Spontaneous “out to lunch” – We all have members on our team who are a bit more quiet, steady and reliable, but not the folks who are making waves or drawing our attention.  Often, we forget to pay attention to them but let’s face it – if we didn’t have them we’d be in trouble.  Why not grab them for a lunch – a real, sit down, cloth napkin, relaxed lunch – to catch up, find out how they are doing personally and ask their opinion on your business strategy.
  6. Gone Fishin’ – Team building exercises are a great way to blow off some steam after a tough project, to celebrate a customer win, a departmental success – you name it.  I am guilty of forgetting to celebrate successes as well.  Get out AT LEAST ONE TIME during the summer to play with your team – no executives allowed!
  7. Document the Awesome – As managers we’ve been trained to document developmental areas.  We’re all skilled at the “write up” and “performance plan” but what about documenting AWESOMENESS?  This can be as lightweight as making a recommendation on their LinkedIn Profile to making a formal letter for their personnel file.  I think it’s also important to let your executive leadership know when someone on your team has been AWESOME.
  8. Cool Factor Conference – Professional Development has unfortunately been substantially reduced in corporate America.  Personally I believe that your training and development as a professional is up to you.  However, there are some pretty amazing conferences that happen every year and they are usually in very cool places.  Be selective, but consider making an investment into some of your key folks – it will pay back 10x.
  9. Public Display of Affection – This might look like “employee of the month” or a highlight in the company newsletter that goes to your customers.  It might be a departmental award in the form of a pink flamingo.  As a manager you want to promote the behavior you admire – the rest of your team will pay attention and want to get some of that.
  10. Executive Exposure – One of the most mystical events in the corporation is the “management meeting.”  It’s the place where all the secret discussions take place and the executives talk about everyone behind their back – right?  OK, so that’s not the case.  But, inviting one of your emerging leaders to attend one of these meetings to get a flavor for what the next level of the organization looks like will really energize them.

Summer is a time to kick back a bit – especially in beautiful Colorado – enjoy family, friends, festivals, sports and being outdoors.  Seize the opportunity to celebrate your amazing employees – after all – without them the company certainly wouldn’t need you now would they?

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