5 Non-Monetary Ways to Retain Your Key Employees

5 Non-Monetary

When it comes to executing strategies, a too commonly overlooked problem is how to retain your key employees throughout execution. Due to the transitive nature of business today, the average staff tenure is 4.4 – 4.6 years and trending downward. Given that most strategies include critical multi-year initiatives, staff retention for your “rock stars” is something to be carefully considered and proactively managed. What ICS has realized is that a majority of executives have not thought about the significantly devastating effect staff turnover has on their long-term strategies. So, we thought this would be a great topic to explore and provide some insight into . . .


Everybody knows that an excellent way to motivate people is by throwing piles of money at them; retention bonuses and alluring reward structures are great when your organization has extra cash to spend. However, with the reality of the modern economy and the “do more with less – cost-cutting” mentality, you need to start thinking of new ways to ensure your top employees will see your strategy through completion. More than that, it is imperative to ensure that this is one of your first priorities when starting the execution phase of your project. Toward this end, ICS recommends the following five non-monetary ways to retain your key employees:


  1. Flexibility: Measure your staff on outcomes, not attendance. For one, attendance is simply a bad metric for performance. More importantly, employees rank flexible work hours and telework opportunities above even salary. So, give it to them. Break free of the old-world philosophies of a 9-5 workday and embrace an “Outcomes-Based” or “Results-Oriented” workforce. Set clear and quantifiable objectives and deliverables for your staff and allow them to work when and where they want. We’re not suggesting pure anarchy, but rather a well thought out and implemented flexible work program for your star performers. And, we spotlight “star performers” because this can be something earned, something special . . . a reward. By making it special, you’re making those to whom the privilege is granted feel valued. And, people who feel valued … well, you get it.
  2. Business Exposure: Everybody wants to meet the right people and make connections, it’s fundamental in today’s business world. With that understanding, it is even more important for you to increase the opportunities for your key employees to be exposed to business leaders within your organization. So, start to bring along your key employees to important meetings. Provide your staff with a broader business perspective of the organization. More critically, make your star performers feel important . . . connected to the business leadership team. As a bonus to you, while your employees create impactful connections and gain invaluable knowledge, they carry that experience back to your team to strengthen their foundation for better decision making. It’s a win-win.
  3. Executive Mentoring: The art of executive mentorship seems to be almost extinct in today’s business world. If you want to retain your best performers, take the initiative and “match” them with an executive mentor. For your employee, being selected to be mentored is an honor which can simultaneously increase drive to perform (because now the mentee feels higher expectations to satisfy their mentors) and also keep the mentee interested in their job because they are developing and growing. If, for some reason, a formal mentoring program is not feasible, take it upon yourself to broker an informal mentorship between your star performers and someone from your network, whether that is within or outside your organization. Ultimately, if you can find a mentor that can positively impact your employee’s growth, you’ve again created a nice win-win.
  4. Increased Responsibility: By giving an employee more responsibility, you not only show that you trust them, but it also reinforces your claim that they are important to the organization. An added benefit is that increased responsibility gives your key players exposure and influence over a greater number of employees throughout the organization. This positions them as change agents behind your strategy which can help garner more enrollment and resolve issues that arise due to employee unease with the change.
  5. Make it Personal: When it’s all said and done, life and work is all about relationships. As such, the most powerful tool in your toolbox is YOU. If you want to retain your key team members, take the time to get to know them – and let them get to know one another. People leave organizations, but it is far more difficult to leave their friends. Transcend your official capacity and become more to them than their “boss,” sitting in the corner office. Ultimately, you don’t have to be friends with everyone. What is important is that there’s a personal relationship of some sort, founded in trust and respect. I realize you know this already. But, knowing it and making the investment to actually do it oftentimes do not reconcile. So, maybe this last tip is just a little nudge to get out there and make it personal; make it hard for someone to leave you and your team.