Want Employees to Stay? Ditch the Picnic

While team builders and company picnics are fun, the secret to employee retention is understanding what they want.

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happy employee retention

It’s no secret that effectively managing employees is no walk in the park. We may think team builders, morale boosters, and other seemingly fun/contemporary programs help build a healthy, productive organizational atmosphere.

But the truth is that effectively creating job satisfaction and keeping your employees around means ditching the picnic and learning what would really make work feel like a day in the park for your employees.

What employees want

You might remember that movie from 2000 called “What Women Want.” Basically, a guy finally learns how to effectively communicate with women after an accident gives him the ability to read their thoughts. In the end, he becomes a better father, leader, and coworker.

The point is that knowing how to effectively communicate with employees enough to retain top talent means you have to get in their heads and know what they want.

“Recruitment and retention start with knowing what employees want,” says Michael Steinitz, senior executive director of Accountemps, a temporary accounting, and financial staffing solution provider.

To back up that sentiment, a recent survey found that 52 percent of employees said flexible scheduling, followed by 27 percent who would love to be able to leave early on Fridays.

What employees don’t want

Knowing what your employees don’t want is just as important as knowing what they do want. This is mostly so you can compare and contrast what works and what doesn’t, or in essence, what makes employees want to stay, and what makes them want to go.

The same survey above found that 53% of companies implement a casual summer dress code as one of their perks and 48% of companies provide a picnic or potluck. While those sounds like good morale boosters, the truth is that employees couldn’t care less about them. In fact, only eleven percent of employees indicated that a relaxed summer dress code was desirable for them.

So why ditch the picnic, then? Well, the survey also found that company picnics or potlucks were at the bottom of the list of summer perks, with a low ten percent of employees saying they’d make them happy.

“Employees want flexible schedules or reduced hours instead of an ice cream social,” says Steinitz.

Why it’s important

While companies want to protect their assets and optimize their resources, they may have a negative stigma that desirable summer perks are costly. Summer Fridays are viewed negatively for fear of lost productivity, but Steinitz mentions that is rarely the case.

Employees tend to remedy lost production by improving their focus, planning ahead, managing their time, and completing critical tasks before leaving. Naturally, this suggests that giving your employees what they want during the summer might be less costly than constant turnover.

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