In late 2008, John Ratliff faced 110% annual turnover among hourly workers at his Wilmington, Del., call-center firm, Appletree Answers. Then he started a wildly popular initiative called Dream On, where the company fulfills one wish for each employee. To his surprise workers tend to request modest items, like the deposit for an apartment, so the program has cost only about $250,000 so far. Meanwhile, voluntary turnover has fallen to 25%.
--Verne Harnish is the CEO of Gazelles Inc., an executive education firm.
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