The grass is always greener on the other side.

That sentiment often leads employees to leave one job for another. They long for greener grass — and it’s not always the monetary kind.

“If an employee is planning to leave, more money will not keep them for very long,” says Don Tyler, personnel-management specialist with Tyler & Associates of Clarks Hill, Ind. “You can offer it, they may take it, but my experience is that they will still leave in a few months.”

Perks other than pay increases go a long way toward decreasing turnover in the workplace. Here are three easy ways to create an atmosphere where employees want to stay long-term.

1. Reward long-term service.

It’s common sense that people feel good when they get a pat on the back. Unfortunately, it’s not commonly practiced.

One way to change that is to recognize long-term employees. For instance, offer special perks for employees who reach five, 10 or 15 years of employment on your dairy. On those years — and those years only — give employees additional time off or reward them with an extra paycheck, Tyler says.

Another idea is to provide a cash incentive for each year employed, says Greg Smith, employee-retention consultant and CEO of Chart Your Course International of Conyers, Ga. Smith consulted for a small plumbing business that gave employees $200 for each year employed. To be eligible, employees must have achieved five years of employment.

Non-monetary rewards can be just as effective. Be creative. Rewards for long-term service can be something as basic as being more flexible during silage season.

“One company that I work with had several employees who had been with the company for 20-plus years,” Tyler says. The employees had received regular cost-of-living wage increases. They were now earning well above the going rate for their positions. The company simply could not afford to continue pay increases, so it capped salaries. “As we spoke with each of these employees, we found that their needs were basic,” Tyler recalls. “They really didn’t mind that their pay was capped,” he says. All they wanted in return were some basic benefits that fit their personal needs. For example, one employee wanted to take time off during silage harvest to attend a motorcycle rally in his hometown. Although it was against farm policy for anyone to take time off at harvest, the company granted his request.

Your actions do not go unnoticed by other employees. This, in turn, builds loyalty among those who have not yet achieved long-term status.

2. Make it fun to stay.

Freshen-up your retention efforts with some serious fun.

Take a serious subject, like safety on the job, for example, and turn it into a fun rewards program.

For example, employees who stay accident-free on the job for a month enter into a drawing for a prize. Or, when their name is drawn, they get to drive the new pickup truck for a week. Mix up the rewards so they are different each month.

Recognize good behavior in the community, too. Smith recalls how a small company employed this strategy. Once a year at the company’s holiday party, employees who had not received a citation for speeding or other traffic violations split a pool of money.

Set a dollar amount that is appropriate for your budget. Perhaps you can put $50 or $100 per employee into the pool.

3. Perks for the family.

Add a different twist to your retention plan — throw in some perks directed at the families of your employees.

Smith shares how one small business did just that. Twice a year, the company gave a $50 savings bond to children of employees who turned in a report card with straight “A”s. Simple things, like a free movie rental for each “A” on the report card, work well, too.

Gifts following the birth of a child or graduation also fit well in retention plans. They don’t have to be lavish. Just use your imagination to come up with options that fit your budget.

You also can bolster loyalty by offering services that benefit an employee’s entire family. Smith consulted for a small business that hired a financial advisor to help employees manage their money. Employees could use the service to learn how to establish a 401(k) retirement program, save money to buy a house, or save money for their children’s college education.

 Try some of these strategies today. You just might hear your employees say that the grass is still greener on this side of the fence.

In the FAST lane
Rewards and recognition can be effective tools in an employee-retention plan. Greg Smith, employee-retention consultant in Conyers, Ga., uses the acronym FAST to convey his four principles for using rewards to retain employees.

  • Focus on the behavior you want to reward.
  • Avoid judging. Let employees recognize their peers.
  • Simple is best. Don’t make things complicated.
  •  Team effort. Let employees decide what forms of recognition to offer.

 New book
“401 proven ways to retain your best employees,” by Greg Smith, employee-retention consultant and CEO of Chart Your Course International in Conyers, Ga. is now available. For more information, go to: or go to The price is $19.95.