12 Unusual Ways to Incentivize Top Talent to Stick Around

How to Retain Employees You Want to Keep

In recent years, switching jobs has become less of a sign of inconsistency and more a standard practice.

That’s why we asked 12 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following questions:

“What’s one unusual way you incentivize your top talent to stay for the long term?”

How to Retain Employees With Talent

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Have Them Map Out Yearly Plans 

“No matter how interesting a job is, I know even the most dedicated employees will get bored of it after a year. And that’s a good thing. You want employees who are smart and curious with a desire to evolve. So I have them set stretch goals once a year to incentivize them to stick around. They essentially rewrite their job by creating ambitious long-term plans to reach for yearly.” ~ Elle KaplanLexION Capital

2. Involve Them in Major Decisions

“I don’t make any major decisions in my company without consulting my top talent. In my firm’s case, my top talent is responsible for a large part of our revenue, so I want them to take ownership of their and our future growth. This usually doesn’t require that they do any extra work, and I genuinely incorporate their advice into my decision making.” ~ Mark DaoustQuiet Light Brokerage, Inc.

3. Make Them Feel Like Company Owners

“We want our employees to share in the success of the company. After all, it wouldn’t be successful without them. Bonus- or equity-sharing programs can help team members feel like company owners, and therefore stay more dedicated to their roles and the organization as a whole.” ~ Chuck CohnVarsity Tutors

4. Keep Your Work Environment Low-Key 

“I try to make the working environment as relaxed as possible. Keeping my top talent in a pleasant environment with flexible hours, breaks, happy hours, and parking benefits has kept them motivated and glad to be working at Uassist.ME.” ~ Alfredo AtanacioUassist.ME

5. Offer Sabbaticals

“Offer ways for them to take a month or two off to go explore, learn something new, or enjoy their hobbies so they know they can really have a more diverse and interesting life away from their desks. You just need to plan for this time when they are gone by bringing temporary support.” ~ Cynthia JohnsonIpseity Media

6. Invest in Their Life

“Our company offered one of our top employees a loan to put a down payment on their home. The gesture alone created loyalty that could not be bought. By investing in our employees outside of work, we make up part of their social structure and this cements a long-term relationship. Be part of your employees’ lives. Look outside of work, they will never let you go” ~ Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors, LLC

7. Send Top Talent to Tony Robbin’s UPW Conference

“Over the last decade, I’ve sent nearly 30 of my top managers to Tony Robbin’s Unleash the Power Within (UPW) conference. UPW is an intense four-day personal and professional development conference. Each day is 12-14 hours of education and experience. On day one, all attendees walk on a hot bed of coals. The conference is a life changer and shows key employees your commitment to their long-term development.” ~ Kristopher JonesLSEO.com

8. Provide Alternative Growth Paths

“We keep top talent around for the long term by providing alternative paths for growth. You can grow in salary, title, skills and more without simply becoming a manager. At Wistia, individual contributors carry just as much prestige as managers, so the “up or out” mentality won’t float. This way of nurturing your employees really encourages some impressive professional growth.” ~ Chris SavageWistia

9. Let Them Build Your Company’s Future

“Let them be part of evolving your company and vision. We host meetings called “innovation councils” where top performers propose key initiatives and improvements. Knowing that they are part of building the future makes them a lot more likely to stick around to see it come to fruition.” ~ Christopher KellyConvene

10. Create a Promotion Plan

“I create a promotion plan with them where we set out certain goals and objectives to fulfill in a certain timeframe that will advance or promote them further within the company. Having this set as a long-term plan where they see what is ahead often keeps them there.” ~ Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

11. Practice Constant Respect Communication

“Respect remains a simple yet powerful way of showing your employees you recognize their value. While it is not a single incentive, practicing respectful ways of communication every day creates a positive experience for your team and ultimately improves chances of longevity. It all comes down to treating people how you would want to be treated: with care and kindness.” ~ Peggy ShellCreative Alignments

12. Offer Paid Vacations

“We offer top performers paid vacations to different destinations. If goals are met and their performance is exemplary, we will plan paid-for trips, sometimes as a company and sometimes just for them and their families. This is something that everyone really enjoys and looks forward to, and is a rewarding way to be recognized and appreciated.” ~ Marcela De VivoGryffin

Calf Roping Photo via Shutterstock

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.