Winning the retention race

Unique benefit offerings help businesses set themselves apart

Posted on Sep 27, 2019 :: Pipeline
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Whether it’s offering rewards, paid time off to volunteer or another special benefit to employees, businesses know they need to play their “A” game to retain their talent.

“You can’t be a successful company if you don’t focus on your people,” says Sandy Fragale, CEO of Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialists. “Employees play a significant role in a company’s success, and when they are treated well and appreciated, it really shows.”

According to the Work Institute, turnover cost American businesses $600 billion in 2018, with that figure expected to reach $680 billion by 2020. That total is not only associated with the direct costs of finding the replacement but also the number of lost-work days to fill a position, the time of those involved with the interview process and the period it takes for the new hire to learn the job and produce at the expected level.

At OSMS, a recognition program plays a vital role in retention efforts. When the organization launched an internal engagement platform to encourage peer-to-peer recognition and foster a positive culture, OSMS introduced “bonus bones,” which are reward points employees can convert to paid time off, gift cards, premier parking spots and additional bonus bones, says Darin Schumacher, OSMS’s marketing manager.

Each month, every employee receives 200 bonus bones to award to co-workers. The awards can be given to recognize a job well done, someone who’s gone above and beyond or anything else that makes the employee stand out. As employees hand out their bonus bones, it goes on a social media-type feed on OSMS’s intranet and others can “like” or comment on the post, Fragale says.

Fragale and OSMS’s doctors — who own the business — are active on the platform, which the CEO says is important.

“A program like this needs to be supported from the owners on down. It’s a definite culture shift,” Fragale says. “We believe the most important thing is our people, and if we treat them well, they will treat our patients well and they’ll come back.”

Fragale says bonus bones are just one way the company shows its appreciation to employees.

“It’s important to have them know that they are valued. For example, we have a grill, and twice a summer, I grill out for the whole company,” she says. “Employees even bought me a crazy chef hat and apron. It’s something everyone looks forward to.”

Lending a hand

Most companies support their employees’ volunteer efforts — especially as studies show giving back is high on millennials’ value list. But what about providing PTO so employees can volunteer their time with a nonprofit organization?

That’s something First Business Bank began doing earlier this year. Each full-time employee receives eight hours of PTO he or she can use to help at a nonprofit during the workday without worrying about using vacation time, says Emily Bradley, director of talent acquisition at First Business Bank. Some part-time employees also receive PTO time for volunteering depending on how many hours they work.

“Employees can identify on their own how they want to spend their volunteer hours. They just need to tell their manager, designate it in the (time tracking system) as volunteer time and then are paid for that time,” she says. “We’ve always been flexible with hours, so it’s pretty common that people would take time off from work to volunteer and make up the time. Now, we’re letting them know they don’t need to make it up.”

The program was launched earlier this year, and Bradley says it has been met with a good response.

“There’s not a lot of cost to this program, but there’s a big business reward. Our employees feel more appreciated and happier that their employer is giving them this time to do something they enjoy,” she says.

Bradley believes more employers will offer PTO for volunteering as time goes on. “Employees — especially the millennials — want to be involved in the community, and this shows them their employer supports their efforts.”

On their own schedule

One of the most popular offerings at J. J. Keller & Associates in Neenah doesn’t cost the company a cent.

“Our flexibility is by far our most popular benefit we have that employees take advantage of,” says Amy Sabourin, vice president of HR and Associate Services at J. J. Keller. Workers — depending on their position — have the option to work from home or structure their hours for what’s best for them. “Employees have the freedom to work from home or a little different schedule if that better meets their needs. That option is such a benefit to our employees.”

Offering employees the option to work from home does not create extra cost for the company and actually benefits the company since it helps attract and retain workers, Sabourin says.

An estimated 25 percent of the company’s employees work remotely.

Sabourin adds when employees are polled about what they like best about working at J. J. Keller, the flexible working schedule tops the list.

The flexible working option is just one of multiple ways J. J. Keller tries to show its employees they’re valued, Sabourin says. The company offers an onsite health clinic, fitness center and cafeteria and supports multiple community initiatives, which employees appreciate.

“When associates feel appreciated and valued, that goes a long way to creating a place where people want to work, and once they come on board, that they want to stay,” she says.


What is the Pipeline?

When talking with business leaders, there’s one subject that generally unites them: lack of talent. The talent shortage cuts across all industries and businesses of all sizes. With that in mind, Insight is launching this new feature to address attraction and retention topics along with other workforce training trends. If you have an idea for a future story, please email it to [email protected].