We wanted to find a unique way to reward staff who’d stuck with us through thick and thin.
Compared to other companies in our industry, we have very low turnover, which we’re proud of.
But we realized recently that we’d never devised a formal program to reward those employees who’d stayed with us for years and years.
We know a lot of companies present gifts to commemorate employee anniversary dates — one year, five years, and so on.
That seemed fine – but we wanted to do something different.
So we decided to create a sabbatical reward program for long-time staffers.
How it works: We give employees who reach their seven-year milestone seven days off and some money to do something they’ve always wanted to do but haven’t been able to.
Workers who reach their 15-year milestone get 15 days off.
We asked employees to:
- do something that betters their lives or the life of someone else
- learn something they’ve always wanted to learn, and
- investigate or pursue something they’re passionate about.
We also ask employees to take their days off in one big chunk.
That means that, with weekends, staffers have 11 or 21 days to plot their program around.
Staffers have two years from the date of their anniversary to take their sabbatical.
Once we introduced the program and filled workers in on what it involved, it didn’t take long for them to come up with some great ideas.
We set up a four-person committee to give approval to employees or to suggest modifications to their ideas.
Staffers have used their sabbaticals to do all kinds of cool stuff, including:
- shooting a photo essay in Cuba
- learning to paint at an art school in Arizona
- attending to a tennis camp in Florida
- enrolling in clown school to be a hospital clown, and
- visiting Norway, where the employee’s family is from and where his relatives still live.
We’ve received nothing but great feedback from staffers about the program. Even new workers and staffers not close to their seven year mark love the idea.
The best part: The program has helped us recruit new talent and increased loyalty.
(Case study courtesy of Brad Penman, COO, The Marketing Arm, Dallas)