4. What is your most effective retention strategy: paid vacation/sick leave, raises, a 401K, company events, health insurance or is there something else?

We use most all of those, and, in addition, we have performance bonuses and exceptional acts bonuses. — Paul Senecal, managing partner, AffinEco, Bridgeport, Connecticut

The most effective retention strategy is similar to finding and keeping loyal employees:  listen, recognize and reward. Start with clean, attractive uniforms; well-conditioned, best-in-class, quality chemicals, tools and equipment; and, where possible, the potential attainment of advancement. — Eric Luke, president and CEO, Varsity Facility Services, Salt Lake City

Our most effective retention strategy is employee engagement. Engagement is the sense that you are an integral component of a team, your ideas are valued and you are valued as a person. Accordingly, everyone at Harvard Services Group is ingrained with a sense of engagement and a duty to foster such engagement among those with whom we work. Inclusion, communication and the work environment help achieve employee engagement. — Nathalie Doobin, owner and CEO, Harvard Services Group, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Florida

We do utilize a few of your suggestions above, but I think the most important is the fact that we really care about the people. Our mission is to help people know what they want to do with their lives and help them make the connections to move in that direction. We appreciate that we have a number of team members that have been with us a very long time (20- to 30-plus years), but we don’t expect it from everyone. We let them know the door is open and they can leave to do what they want, and if it doesn’t work out, they can come back. We also are intentional about creating a sense of community and connection, from each building throughout the company. — Mary Miller, owner and CEO, JANCOA, Cincinnati

5. What retention methods haven’t worked over the years?

Believing that pay raises will keep service employees tied and loyal to your company. This competitive industry, where customers expect annual reductions instead of increases, makes it difficult to give the types of pay raises we all want to pay. Pay alone will not retain. — Eric Luke, president and CEO, Varsity Facility Services, Salt Lake City

We have tried to attract and retain employees by paying them more than our competitors and offering transportation. Both work for a short time but don’t last for long. There is always someplace that will pay them more. When we help them improve the quality of life through education and opportunities and they work hard to earn the increase in their pay, there is more energy and confidence in their behavior. They feel better about themselves and our company. — Mary Miller, owner and CEO, JANCOA, Cincinnati

Like most companies, we have utilized, and to a certain extent still utilize, financial rewards based on individual success. We have found that pay as a standalone method of retention is relatively ineffective long term for quality candidates. As long as we are paying a fair wage, we have found employee retention to be closer aligned with employee engagement. We therefore focus more on tangible rewards for team success and intangible benefits to create an environment where individuals can succeed, however, success is defined for that respective individual. — Nathalie Doobin, owner and CEO, Harvard Services Group, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Something that has been proven to not work regularly is to give a raise as a “Band-Aid.” This refers to a situation when an employee puts in a notice that he or she is leaving. In an attempt to retain that employee to avoid having to fill that open position, we’ve offered a raise to try to get him or her to stay. Many times this employee will still leave within a couple of months. — Scott Stevenson, president and CEO, KleenMark, Madison, Wisconsin

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