A corporate event is one of several stop-gap measures commonly inserted into the strategy for employee retention.

Retention and engagement strategies are in the forefront of every mid-level human resources executive and above, and for good reason. Employees who leave your company present a deficit in recruiting, training, and hiring hours, not to mention the ripple effect (or butterfly effect if you prefer, which is defined as “the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere”) among overall employee satisfaction metrics.

The traditional employee satisfaction metrics are defined as (a) Absenteeism, (b) Net Promoter Score, (c) Productivity Rate, and (d) All Other Measured Qualitative Data, including but not limited to, employee turnover rate, corporate profitability measurements, and overall employee engagement.

Experience typically has demonstrated that when one employee turns in a notice to terminate, other employees at least consider a favorable termination of their own; some go as far as scheduling interviews with competing entities, and some simply spend measurable amounts of work hours discussing vague possibilities with their colleagues. The former cuts down on positive manpower, yet so does the latter. Even without taking definitive action, the latter’s repercussions take the form of productivity loss and efficiency loss.

Your human resources strategy to sustain – and raise – employee retention should begin as early as the interview process. Momentum should be gained by the time a hiring decision is made, an offer is accepted, and the minted new employee shows up for the first day of orientation. Yes, retention begins before an employee does a minute of actual work. Each step of this “hero’s journey,” as it were (in reference to Homer’s “Odyssey”), may have more impact on the new employee’s perception of the company and on the employee’s potential for future engagement and retention than you had previously imagined.

What other factors help your organization keep attractive in the mind of this brand new employee? Salary and benefits are commonly quoted in interviews, although history has a tendency to show that a belief in the company mission and a solid rapport with one’s coworkers may go further. However, one must be cautioned not to overlook compensatory measures.

The tech industry, which has showered its staff rosters with “quirky perks” such as foosball tables and nap chairs beginning in the last decade of the last century (see the dot com boom of the 1990s), has created a mythology that company culture can be defined in terms of pizza, ice cream, and jungle gymnasium equipment. Other benefits inspired by the tech industry include spa-like amenities, on-site wellness classes during duty hours, and a heavy-handed focus on work-life balance.

The corporate event (or outing, field trip, etc.) is one of several stop-gap measures commonly inserted into the strategy for employee retention and engagement. Team-building exercises are so commonplace that souvenirs from these events litter the t-shirt aisles at thrift stores across the country. The stereotype of the trust fall comes to mind. A forward-thinking human resources executive will go further than this tried-and-flopped tradition; less hokey corporate events have shown promising success rates. A corporate-sponsored, all-expenses-paid outing may have a more measurable positive effect. Southern California companies, for example, often provide tickets, food, beverage, and transportation to and from concerts at casinos in San Diego. Concern may be expressed that corporate events of this nature may promote inappropriate behavior; however, it is this type of thinking that often results in an overall loss in employee engagement.

For some companies, the corporate event has taken a page from health and wellness trends. Retreats to learn not about leadership but about mindfulness techniques, for example, are seeing a rise in popularity. It will be interesting to see hard data on this concept; hopefully, white papers will soon be published so that we can carefully choose our engagement strategies.