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Retaining your employees: 3 creative tactics a design thinking company uses to increase engagement


When you’re at the helm of a company, you quickly realize employees aren’t just numbers on a payroll – they’re literally the lifeblood of the organization.

Without them, you can’t get where you want to go. But how do we ensure they stick around for the long haul?

Well, we’ve been helping large organizations and institutions like the Red Cross and Indiana University Health do this. And we take our own medicine too.

Here’s why employee retention is important and 3 ways we guarantee ours at Collabo XD:

Why is employee retention so important anyway?

A high turnover rate isn’t just a nuisance. It’s …

  • damaging to morale,
  • super costly (1.5-2x their salary) and
  • disruptive to your team’s natural flow.

This isn’t a ploy. It’s a real problem many companies suffer from.

Turnover can also tarnish your reputation. The market’s best talent wants to know you’ll take care of them as both employees and people. If you’re constantly driving people out the door, phew… That doesn’t bode well for your culture.

Retaining talent means preserving the knowledge and skills your team has built over time. Because the more longevity you get out of your workers, the more hands-off you can be.

**Think of it like a rowing team. Your boat only moves forward when everyone is moving in concert with another. With great communication, synergy and flow, you move more quickly and powerfully.

The more experienced rowers you have, the better performance you’ll get from the team as a whole. If you consistently lose rowers and you have to train new ones, your speed will suffer.**

Races are won by fully bought-in teams. And fully bought-in teams are built over time.

Retention is the key.

Collabo XD’s approach to employee retention

At Collabo XD, we do a few things that I think have been really beneficial to maintaining our spirit, mission and values.

We live work-life balance. Honestly, it’s baked into our culture. And we’ve seen fantastic results from three specific activities that celebrate it:

  • Finish Fridays
  • Monthly lunch outings
  • Team retreats

1. Finish Fridays

Once-a-week on Fridays, we gather virtually to share project milestones, progress toward goals and of course, personal life updates.

Finish Fridays are our antidote to burnout. Instead of pushing through that last day of the traditional workweek, we kick back and relax a bit by sharing candidly everything that’s happening in our lives. This gives everyone a chance to check in level-set for the weekend.

An unintentional benefit of these Friday meetups are being able to hit the next week running. With all the context, goals and tasks laid out the prior week, you know exactly what your focus is.

The most important part? The overwhelmingly positive feedback from our team.

My colleagues love the personal touch. There’s something about knowing you have a half-day at the end of the week that makes you more focused and efficient.

2. Lunch outings

Every month, we pick a local restaurant and treat the whole team to lunch.

It’s a chance to step away from the office, explore our community, go over a bit more strategic/high-level stuff than we talk about during Finish Fridays, and – most importantly – bond over some delicious food 😆

It’s amazing how shared experiences outside of the traditional work environment can strengthen team bonds. As a virtual team, we need this time to really get to know each other and go beyond the digital walls of Zoom and Slack.

Strong teams? They stick together.

These outings have become a cornerstone of our culture. And something I really look forward to every month.

3. Team retreats

Once a year, we get the team together for a weekend retreat. It’s part holiday, part vacation, part brainstorming session.

Don’t underestimate the power of a new environment. The inspiration can really get the creative juices flowing.

We’ve seen incredible ideas come out of these retreats.

Plus, the camaraderie that’s built when you’re tackling a ropes course or assembling a puzzle together? That sticks around long after we return to the virtual office.

Our team feels more connected, rejuvenated and appreciated – key ingredients in the recipe for retention.

Note: That last one – appreciation – is a really underrated asset. Recognize and reward your teammates often. They LOVE the acknowledgement.

Employee retention isn’t just about keeping people on your team. It’s about keeping them happy, motivated and valued.

Retention is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. But our initiatives like Finish Fridays, lunch outings and team retreats have paid off.

Maybe they’d work for your team too? Maybe they wouldn’t.

But you don’t know until you try. Don’t be afraid to mix things up. Take a good, hard look at what your team values, and be willing to try new things.

It could make the difference between a high turnover rate, costly stop-and-start talent acquisition strategy and low morale.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What creative strategies have you used to retain your employees?

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?



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