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What some companies are doing to motivate employees – is it working?

baseballFor the last two blog posts (To motivate employees, thank their spouses and families and 5 Specific ideas to motivate employees), I’ve been talking about what you can do to motivate employees – to create a workplace where employees are happy … and productive.  Well a reader sent me a link to an article that was posted in CNN Money on January 22.  It’s titled:

10 top perks from Best Companies 2014

She had her own opinion, but was curious as to what I thought about these in terms of their value in motivating employees.  Some got stellar grades and others failed – three A+s and one D.  Here is my assessment of each:

  1. A Boston law firm gives its lawyers two box seats to a Red Sox game annually. The article pointed out that seniority determines eligibility.  D.  For rewards to be motivating, they must be tied to specific performance.  The criteria here is seniority … fail!
  2. Discovery Communications which owns TV networks like The Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet hosts in-house premieres for employees and their families.  A+.  This is a reward that involves the employee’s family AND employees can pick and choose the events that are the most meaningful to them.
  3. At Ernst & Young, if an employee dies during his tenure at the firm, the surviving family receives either $50,000 or four months’ salary (whichever is greater) within 48 hours of the company being notified.  B+.  True, it takes a tragedy for this benefit to kick in, but at a time of incredible stress, the employee’s family can at least be relieved of financial pressures.
  4. Teams of 5-25 employees at the software giant, Intuit, can participate in 15-minute mini-workouts which combine strengthening, stretching, relaxation, yoga, breathing and meditation, right in their work areas.  A+.  It’s good for them and it’s optional, bravo.
  5. Digital products company Qualcomm not only pays its summer interns, but also provides them with a generous relocation package. They also receive fully furnished housing, roommate matching, a transportation allowance, and amenities like towels and linens, a TV and DVD player, a fully equipped kitchen, and maid service every other week.  B-/C+.  Well I’m glad they’re doing it, but duh … shouldn’t you be paying your interns anyway!  I bet the interns appreciate the services once they’ve relocated, but I wonder what it does to future expectations.
  6. Kiewit, a construction services company, makes training fun for employees.  After they learn how to operate the company’s heavy equipment, they spend a second day competing at the “Equipment Rodeo” where they compete for prizes in events such as pickup up a beach ball with an excavator.  A.  Fun!  And they’re learning skills that are of value to them as well as the company.
  7. Google is ranked as the best company to work for in this 2014 ranking, significantly due to the benefits it gives its employees.  Just one of these perks: the three winners of their annual talent show opened for Bruno Mars at his April Las Vegas show at their Global Sales Conference!  B.  Google is very innovative when it comes to employee benefits so this is not an assessment on what they do overall, just on this particular perk.  Fun, but only three people are rewarded; more inclusive rewards are better if your goal is to motivate employees.
  8. The Container Store celebrates “We Love Our Employees Day” on February 14, giving away treats like lamb’s wool blankets and t-shirts, and hot chocolate K-Cups to be used in “cocoa lounges”.  B.  Cute and fun and tied directly towards employee appreciation.  But “company graft” can get “old” pretty fast.
  9. The Detroit-based mortgage lender, Quicken Loans, noticed that many of its employees lived outside of the troubled city so they partnered with other local organizations to create rich (up to $20,000 in forgivable loans) incentives for employees who chose to rent or buy in the city.  Their reasoning: helping Detroit get back on its feet helps the company’s employees.  B+.  To offer financial help to employees for a basic need, shelter, and do good for the city they are based in – a good combination.
  10. When employees at the Palo Alto-based law firm, Cooley, do a good job, they’re rewarded with “Snooze or Cruise” certificates, which allow them to come in two hours late or leave two hours early on a day of their choosing.  A+.  Tied directly to performance, and of value to just about any employee who needs to manage personal issues or just take some “me-time”.  Brilliant!

Well, do you agree with my assessments?  What grade would you give?  Why or why not?  C’mon, this should be a fun discussion!


  • Any ideas on how to motivate government employees? We are about 75% represented and are restrictred on use of tax dollars.


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