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Employee retention: Non-monetary rewards & HR innovation

Automation can be a great tool for employee retention, and Aaron Rubens outlines ways leaders can implement such systems.

4 min read


employee retention

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Every business needs to attract the brightest and best talent and keep these valuable employees from jumping ship. Enticing salaries and bonuses are a great way to get employees in the door, but in this era of quiet quitting, loud quitting and surging workplace stress, those incentives probably won’t be enough to keep them in the long term. 

Aaron Rubens

Regarding retention, engagement and productivity, companies need to step up their non-monetary incentives. Even though workplace engagement programs have been on the upswing since the pandemic, many companies may struggle in the years ahead to keep these programs effective, exciting and fun for workers. Falling behind in keeping workers engaged and feeling appreciated will cause many businesses to lose their competitive edge. 

A workplace pizza party used to go a long way to boost morale, but those days are over. Teams are distributed across multiple locations. And wherever they are working, they are likely putting far more emphasis on mental health and work-life balance than they might have in the past.

With job openings abounding and location no longer a sticking point, employees have more choices today. And they want more from their jobs than a good salary and bonuses. They want to feel supported by their organization and demand that the organization offers them ample opportunities to grow.

While raises and bonuses are essential to maintaining satisfied employees, recognition, good work-life balance, and other internal policies truly incentivize employees to stay, work hard and find satisfaction in what they do. An overwhelming 65% of employees prefer non-monetary incentives instead of monetary rewards. This might be good news for a company’s bottom line, but it means more work for the company leaders and HR teams in charge of employee satisfaction. That is unless businesses seize on the opportunities that automation now presents.

The new era

It might be hard to imagine that machines and algorithms can help people form bonds, help leaders communicate with their teams, help workers feel appreciated, and that their emotional well-being is a corporate priority. But that’s precisely what is happening in workplaces today.

Workplace engagement, just like so many other critical business functions, can be at least partially automated. And that’s what companies need to explore if they intend to offer the kind of engagement workers want today but without overtaxing HR leaders.

Workers achieve small wins regularly — far too often to offer each of them a cake or workplace party. On top of this, they have birthdays, weddings, work anniversaries and other milestones where a company might want to show appreciation. This is a great use case for automation. Some programs help company leaders show their appreciation digitally and without a significant investment of time or company resources. These kudos may only exist in an email inbox but go a long way. And they let companies do something that HR teams can’t possibly stay on top of — congratulating and thanking workers continuously.

The connection between one worker and another — and between company leaders and employees — is something else that can be partially automated. And with “work-from-anywhere” keeping teams physically disconnected, bringing in automation is a must. Programs like Slack enable asynchronous communications among teammates regardless of location is an example of keeping genuine human connections alive through automation.

Workplace engagement is more critical than ever because workers have more demands and choices than they had in the past. And increasingly, they are choosing companies that make them feel appreciated. But engagement at work does not need to overwhelm company leaders even as it grows more frequent and complex. They can use automation to do what it does best — taking much of the work off their plates.


Aaron Rubens is the CEO and co-founder of Kudoboard

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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