Two weeks ago, Apple Inc. issued unusual and significant stock bonuses worth up to $180,000 to its software engineers and tech professionals. They were concerned that their most valuable talent would defect over to Meta - formerly Facebook - who were looking to recruit thousands of new employees to build the metaverse.
Meta had already recruited about 100 engineers from Apple over the past few months. And Apple also played its cards by luring away key Meta employees. The war for talent is already heating up in the Silicon Valley and beyond. And companies have begun loading up their arsenal with creative HR policies and retention tactics.
Business owners are pulling all the stops to improve their talent retention score. Some companies are offering celebratory leaves to employees to celebrate their personal milestones, while some offer no-questions-asked leave policies.
Most companies still fancy the free snack, drinks and games policy, while others still strongly believe that this is the way to go:
A good retention strategy can make for smooth running of the business. We understand the underlying beliefs that drive and shape retention measures. They have a huge impact of employee satisfaction and welfare which has a direct impact on employee productivity.
So, we’re just here to take notes on innovative HR policies from the unusual ones. In the name of innovation, some companies have chosen the road less travelled to build creative HR strategies. We wanted to examine how the world’s most innovative companies have pushed the boundaries of HR as we know it.
4 creative HR policies from innovative companies
1. Netflix redefines workplace culture
You’ve probably already heard about Netflix’s unconventional HR strategy.
Unlike companies that simply write up values and policies that ultimately ignored in the daily running of the business, the entertainment giant emphasises on having ‘real’ values that its people actually adhere to.
Netflix’s HR motto is, “putting people over procedures.” The concept isn’t a novel one, but even the simplest of concepts are often overlooked by businesses. However, Netflix maintains an adherence to values by continuously encouraging employees to uphold and assess themselves against it.
One such creative HR policy is Netflix’s approach to employee leaves - an initiative that is part of their commitment to encouraging employee freedom and responsibility. Rather than the traditional set annual leave policies that companies adhere to, the employees at Netflix are simply instructed to take holidays according to their own discretion - as long as it doesn’t cause harm to the business.
Similarly, under the parental leave policy, there is no set amount of time allocated for parents to issue their leave. They are given the freedom to return to work whenever they feel that they and their new baby are ready.
Flexible leave policies may not seem as revolutionary as table tennis, but the values associated with them are something that companies can often lose sight of.
2. Intuit’s employee recognition strategy
The software company Intuit tapped into an effective way of delivering recognition and feedback through Spotlight, its highly praised employee recognition program. Its aim is to shine a spotlight on employees that have demonstrated their dedication, innovation and performance.
Employees receive feedback for their excellent performance, and in return, they get their pick of rewards, which includes gift cards and charitable donations made in their name. Within the first two years of the creative HR policy’s initiation, close to 95% of Intuit’s employees have received one or more awards.
This is testament to how the practice has embedded itself as part of Intuit’s employee recognition culture, how easy it is for mangers to implement, and majorly how it has instilled a performance-driven attitude amongst its employees.
3. ‘The Offer’, by Amazon
What if you were offered the option to walk away from a job for good and get paid a lump sum in return? Too good to be true? Well, Amazon offers this unique and creative HR policy incentive to their employees in the USA.
As part of Amazon’s ongoing HR strategy, once a year, employees with one or more years of service under their belts are asked if they would like to leave the company in exchange for a pay-out based on how long they have worked for the company. But, on one condition - once the employee leaves they can never come back.
Employees are given a choice to think about what they want. And the conglomerate sees this as mutually beneficial arrangement, as they believe that employees that choose ‘The Offer’ aren’t as committed as those who choose to stay on. Amazon argues that this policy is worth the short term financial cost, as it ensures that the remaining workforce is engaged and productive in the long run.
4. Home Depot’s homemade retention solution
Owing to its vast footprint and 500,000 strong workforce, the DIY hardware giant crafted its own HR technology. The were on the lookout for technology that would help them navigate the challenges of managing such a vast workforce across the US, Canada, and Mexico, before ultimately taking matters into their own hands and DIY-ing their own HR tech code. Thus, allowing the company to meet rising demands, despite the challenges of Covid-19.
The capability of building their code in-house has been pivotal for them in creating innovative solutions that powers their candidate experience. For instance, Home Depot’s centralised staffing model enables their mission for a customer-back candidate experience that makes the experience efficient for hiring teams and quick and easy for job seekers.
Retain employees by giving them a sense of purpose and community
If your idea of curbing the defection of talent is by simply throwing money or perks at the problem (like Apple), then you would be surprised to know that you’re barking up the wrong tree. Committing to talent retention, would require to dig a little deeper.
1. Create a culture of solidarity
Manifesting a culture of solidarity within an organization is an essential foundation to its retention measures. One way to make the idea a conscious effort is to be purposeful. While many organizations are busy purpose washing to create an illusion of solidarity, genuinely purposeful organizations inculcate the sentiment right into management practices. Make employees’ personal aspirations a routine part of manager conversations. Create simple methods for managers to learn how to have meaningful conversations with their employees, such as asking how they are progressing with their professional or personal goals.
Shine a spotlight on employees’ connection with the organization. When employees embody the organizational purpose, acknowledging it would reinforce the practice and also reming them to be intentional about doing the same.
2. Let employee pitch in on workplace experience
Encourage the ownership of creative HR policies to enhance solidarity. It’s great that business have built flexible HR policies, but they won’t mean anything if they aren’t tied tied to the business and to the people. People will feel a greater sense of ownership if they help create policies, and it will also strengthen adherence across the organization.
3. Coach managers on how to genuinely care
Employees are tired and burned out. Showing compassion and empathy has become central to leadership. Managers need to step up and care for their people; it is now more important than ever. Honest gestures of kindness and support will show employees that managers see them more than just worker - that they are people.
With the burden of the current situation around the world, managers could step up by being models of vulnerability. Asking for help and acknowledging difficulties shows other that it is okay for them to do so, as well. Personalize an experience that will be hard to find anywhere else.
So, instead of throwing money or perks at a problem, start building creative HR policies and shifting your culture to one where people are thrilled to work in instead of one they can’t wait to leave.