As an employee retention expert and employee retention speaker, I am a huge proponent of giving away free clothing, gear and other “stuff” to your employees. I have seen the impact that free “stuff” has on the loyalty of people. In one organization that I worked, every new employee received four different colored shirts with the company logo printed on it. You weren’t required to wear the shirts but we did this by design. We worked a four-day schedule so you had a different shirt for each day of the week if you wanted to wear one to work. It even got to the point that employees would say “Tuesday is red shirt day” and everyone would wear the red shirt even though they weren’t required to.
We gave away mugs, jackets, pens, refrigerator magnets etc. You name it we gave it away. Our philosophy was that we wanted people to be reminded all of the time who helped them to live in the house they lived, who helped send the kids to college and who helped them to do all the things that they needed to do in life. We gave stuff away when other organizations in the town where the company was located made others pay for “stuff.” Other people used to ask our employees why they were always wearing company gear. Our people would reply “Because the company gave it to us for free.” The town was one big walking billboard for our organization. When everyone else was too cheap to give away gear, we felt that the public relations and the pride it built was worth the few thousand bucks a year we spent.
This subtle reminder of seeing our logo all the time, everywhere, was worth its weight in gold because of the positive reinforcement it had with our employees. We used the gear as one way to develop an espirit des corps amongst our people. Why do you think schools have school colors and mascots? For the same reason. It gives people something to rally behind and feel a part of. We filled a void that most people have for belonging.
By filling the void to belong, people thought twice about leaving us because they belonged. They were the part of our family. We may have been a dysfunctional family at times, but we were family and that is how our people viewed it. You don’t quit family, you quit nameless faceless organizations. Was giving away “stuff” the only thing we did? Nope, but it was a part of our employee retention strategies so people knew they belonged with us.