Makeover Your Retention Rate: 5 Creative Ways to Reward Star Employees

As a business owner or executive, you’re probably brutally aware that a low retention rate can negatively impact your bottom line and tarnish your reputation among hopefuls seeking new employment opportunities. Replacing employees takes time and money on your end as you scour LinkedIn for potential candidates and scramble to train a new hire. Not to mention, a high turnover rate affects your team’s productivity and cohesiveness, as loyal employees suffer the consequences of back-to-back employees abandoning ship.

Are you wondering where you went wrong? Low retention rates can have a few different causes. Less-than-competitive pay, lack of growth, and inability to make decisions are all reasons why your employees might not stick around. Luckily, there’s a simple way to improve your retention rate: start rewarding your star employees.

Self-aware employers recognize that employees are your company’s most valuable asset. Without their knowledge and can-do attitudes —efforts to drive your business forward would likely fall flat. Overall, recognizing your employees’ efforts increases their happiness and job satisfaction, making them more likely to work at full speed ahead.

With these productivity-boosting benefits in mind, use these five creative ideas to reward your star employees and improve your retention rate virtually overnight.

Gift certificates

Rewarding your employees with gift cards or certificates is a surefire way to increase your retention rate. When you give an employee a gift certificate, you’re granting them the opportunity to handpick a gift they truly want and will actually use. Gift certificates are also easy to implement logistically. Try recognizing the employees who go above and beyond with turkey gift certificates or other personalized gift cards guaranteed to boost retention rate.

Professional development opportunities

Another way to reward employees is to grant them opportunities to further their professional development. With designated time to refine their skills and look inward, they can feel more adequately equipped to tackle daily operations. Not to mention, these crash courses will benefit your business as your employees acquire revenue-boosting knowledge and skills.

Should you decide to go the professional-development route, offer your employees the chance to take an online class for free, or cover their admission fee to an event or conference. After attending these conferences, your employees can step into the office with a renewed sense of resilience and innovation. If attending a seminar isn’t a possibility, you could also provide complimentary subscriptions to magazines and other resources tailored for your industry or niche.


Employee rewards don’t have to be all work and no play. Step away from the classroom and give your employees the chance to treat themselves to a fun outing. Arrange a “field trip” for top-performing employees, which can be as simple as seeing a movie together or channeling your inner daredevil with a once-in-a-lifetime adventure like skydiving. These experiences will be a major incentive to employees — and they’ll also improve your team’s communication skills and strengthen their bond.

Internal events

Should these other strategies prove unsuccessful, you can increase your company’s retention by making a conscious effort to celebrate employee birthdays, company anniversaries, and any holidays featured on your company calendar.

These internal celebrations don’t have to take a sizable chunk out of your budget. Keep things simple and affordable by picking up a grocery store cake and calling your employees into the break room on their lunch hour.

While seemingly nonessential, these small company events like this act as a symbol of your appreciation. Additionally, these informal gatherings foster a sense of excitement and team spirit. That said, always look for excuses to call in a catered lunch or throw a small party, as this will keep morale high, ensure your employees feel valued, and make everybody excited to come to work.

Say thanks

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of simply saying thanks. Regularly tell your employees how much you appreciate them and your effort. Letting somebody know that you see and respect their hard work is a powerful way to facilitate long-lasting relationships in the workplace.

If you thank or recognize an employee in front of a group, even better. Studies show that public recognition makes employee engagement go up. With this in mind, make it a point to verbally show appreciation for your employees during company meetings or with a quick Slack message to the team.

Final thoughts

Rewarding your best-performing employees is an excellent way to improve your company’s overall retention rate. By giving your employees gift certificates, improving company morale with small events, and intentionally saying thanks, your business will be able to retain its most valuable players and reach new heights on the market.

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