What motivators really work for employee retention?

On Fast Company Now, Heath Row talks about a Wall Street Journal article (subscription req'd) on peer-recognition programs that are now making a comeback. Three mentioned in the article:

    * Yum Brands offers Customer Mania peer recognition cards that colleagues can use to indicate how someone exceeds in hospitality, accuracy, and speed -- by giving them to a peer on the spot.

    * Symantec holds quarterly conference calls to name and recognize recipients of the Serendipity award. The award doesn't include a gift, but the public recognition is important and powerful.

    * And Boeing provides an online form employees can use to nominate colleagues, print out certificates, and even send email alerts that someone's efforts are appreciated.

I read the comments to his post, where Heath asks what programs people have at their places of work, with great interest. Then I ran across this one:

    At my company they give a gold star on a departmental chart for exceptional, above and beyond service. Once you recieve 50 stars, they give you a %1 raise and a %2 bonus. After 100 stars you are then laid-off because you are making too much money.

While it's tongue-in-cheek, I'm sure, it's also all too true for all too many these days that monetary rewards can come back to bite employees. While we write articles on motivating and incentivizing employees all the time, I can't help but wonder what really works. I like the idea of the "rock on jar" one Fast Co. commenter mentions.

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