Sure, you could have your employees use disposable Bic pens. You could also have them go out and kill a wild turkey and pluck it bare, then drive to the ocean and spear an octopus and dip the turkey quills in the octopus ink and write with that, like it’s the year 1600. But we assumed we’re past that point. A high-quality Montblanc pen screams class, while a Bic pen suggests “cheapskate” and the turkey quill says “savage” or “weirdo” at best. Your business has a reputation to uphold, and the small things matter.
Nothing is more galling than to give an employee a gift just to watch him eat it. Furthermore, if you’re the boss, you are probably very diligent in controlling the messaging at your workplace. You don’t need your loyal workers getting infected with some goofy superstition based on something Confucius mumbled while he was drunk. This makes conventional fortune cookies a terrible choice for any workplace function. On the other hand, people love these things, despite the fact that they taste like sweetened cardboard. This is the compromise you’ve been looking for.
When your employees say in their interviews that they’re looking for a workplace with a great “culture”, this is what they mean. Team building activities, group outings, honest communication, integrity, and a sense that they’re making a difference in the world are great, but those are all forms of beating around the bush. And that bush is beer. Because anyone who feeds them free beer earns their trust and respect. Anyone who feeds them free beer while paying them earns their eternal loyalty and the keys to their soul. Talk about a return on investment.
It only took us several hundred years, but we’ve figured out that chairs are the worst thing ever. The option of working on your feet has come to seem more attractive than ever, and some say it facilitates greater productivity. And if you’re not comfortable forcing your employees to stand all day, there are plenty of adjustable desks that allow them to choose how lazy they want to be.
You may think you all know each other, but as any shipwreck survivor can tell you, real bonding happens in the wild. After a few days on vacation together, everyone will know what it’s like to turn to the person in the next cubicle, reach into their chest, and feel their squishy, pulsating heart. Okay, maybe it won’t get that intimate, but at least you’ll get to see people let their guard down for a few minutes.
Everyday life has plenty of unavoidable indignities; there’s no reason to add cold coffee to the list. We’ve come so far technologically, yet we’re still relying on basic pottery to keep our coffee warm, like it’s the Stone Age or something. And your employees are too busy making your business AWESOME to pay attention to how long their coffee mug has been sitting out on the desktop. Place it on one of these instead, and they never have to worry about it again.
Don’t bother trying to figure out what your employees really want to do in their spare time. The tickets to Marylin Manson’s reunion tour that you gave away at Christmas last year? Those went straight to StubHub. Making a misstep with event tickets makes your entire team wonder if you know them at all. One Nickleback ticket can undo a whole year of culture building. You’re a firm believer in delegating responsibility to lower level managers. It’s time you let them have control over their personal lives as well.
Agift card is like a magic key that opens doors all across the land. Which is handy, because not everyone is comfortable sleeping in the woods while on vacation. For those with delicate sensibilities, this gift is worth its weight in gold. Your employees deserve some time off to unwind, but some may choose to use their PTO for a “staycation” to save a few bucks, which is a sad substitute for an actual vacation. With a gift card they can use at almost any hotel you can help make sure they make the most of their time away from work.
When it comes to your workplace, there are so many things your minions love. The open lines of communication, the abundant praise for good work, the absence of backstabbing politics. The free donuts. But more than anything, they love being paid not to be there. Let’s stop messing around and make them really happy.