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Silicon Valley is notorious for its fluid job market in which workers move from company to company. That can make it hard for small companies to retain valuable employees. However, Latitude Communications, a telecommunications company in Santa Clara, Calif., which went public in 1998, has found ways to keep annual turnover among its 140-plus employees to a respectable rate of around 5%. In the opinion of CEO Emil Wang, one key factor is a warm welcome expressed in tangible ways.

As soon as new hires join Latitude, for example, Wang lets them know they are part of a community. Each new employee receives a T-shirt signed by other Latitude employees. "I put my T-shirt in my cubicle, and it no longer felt empty," says marketing manager Ning Peng. Latitude also tries to make the first day at work memorable. On that day, a new employee receives a $75 gift certificate for a pair of running shoes as a reminder that Latitude wants employees to put themselves in the customer's shoes.

In addition to the shirt and certificate, Latitude also sends photos of new employees to their spouses and offers new hires one week off to do volunteer work.

Last updated: Oct 21, 1999




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