How Vodka Retains Employees
By Tiffany Dahlberg 
This was one of our most popular articles originally published September 2016 
While on vacation in Idaho, I visited Grand Teton Distillery.  While on tour, I was surprised to see their employee retention program (see photo).  Curious, I asked, "Is that real?"  The employee replied, "Yes, and it works."  Still fascinated, I asked even more questions: "What is it?"  Reply, "Vodka." "How much do they get?" She quickly rattled off at least five reasons to imbibe like when the boss is having a bad day, when they celebrate, etc. but they limited each person to less than 1 oz. a day. 
In a day, fraught with lawsuits and HR policies, I was shocked over this "employee retention program."  It certainly wouldn't work for the majority of my clients who require drug testing for safety reasons, yet this small distillery was very proud that they employed people instead of using bottling machinery, they sourced ingredients locally, and they loved their jobs, bosses, and fellow employees.  No one seemed to abuse the "free vodka" program; it was just another way to express their culture of fun.
What is your employee retention program?  According to Turning the Corner, LLC , here are three tips to consider:
1. Money isn't the answer. Raises and increased benefits are important to the well-being of your company, but often the positive results are short-lived. As long as base needs are met, engagement surveys show that many employees will work for less if they believe in the mission, values, and goals of the company. 
2. Know what is important to your employees. Don't give your employees a branded t-shirt if what they really want is flexible work schedules. Knowing what your employees find important can help you create programs that are valuable to your teams. You may not be able to meet every need, but your efforts will be noticed.
3. If they want to go, help them leave. If they want to stay, develop them.  Sometimes great employees will have opportunities outside of your organization. Embrace this fact and make it easier for them to reach their personal goals. They will become your advocate. Help the ones who are staying with you by creating opportunities for growth, both professionally in your organization and personally. Mentorship programs are a great place to start.
The key to a successful employee retention program is understanding what your employees want and need. While some may like accolades or occasional corporate bling, the vast majority want to feel valued and have significant roles within your organization. 
Most times it's as easy as treating your employees like your customers. Find their pain points and needs, then fill them. We have seen floundering companies lower attrition rates and increase profits simply by showing their employees they are valued.

Contact us  if you're interested in developing an employee retention program.  We will come to your company to teach motivation, rewards, and recognition techniques.

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Tiffany Dahlberg
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