Can Free Beer Motivate an Employee?

Another update from the Jungle…
image015Justin owns a company that has been stagnating during the past year. They make enough money to stay in business but haven’t been able to expand into new markets.  At first, the lack of growth was fine with his staff because they were working through a back log of orders.

Now the back log is gone and employees are bored and disenchanted. They want pay raises, better opportunities for promotions, and a new ping pong table in the break room. They also want free lunches every day and free beer at the weekly office meeting on Fridays.  Justin’s not convinced that free food and beer will motivate his staff to be more creative in a way that’s good for the company’s bottom line.

A few months back, Justin divided his employees into teams to work on different projects but the teams seem to be in a rut. Last week, one team was busy shooting spit wads at the conference room’s whiteboard (to see if they’d stick to a slick surface) instead of brainstorming ideas for new services. Justin got the team back on track (he confiscated all the paper in the conference room) but he was furious about the wasted time.

Justin worries that some of his best people will leave for higher pay and better benefits packages at larger competitors.  He’s already lost two key people who were lured to greener pastures. Now Justin’s sitting at home sipping some single malt scotch and wondering what he can do to motivate his employees.

What are Justin’s options?

  1. He can buy more toys for the break room and a keg of beer for the Friday meetings. But that’s rewarding a lack of productivity by his employees.
  2. He can offer incentive programs, such as a bonus, to any employee who dreams up a new service offering that can increase revenue. This may not offer gratification to employees quickly enough since they could not receive the bonus until the new service proved marketable.
  3. He can reorganize the teams and the projects they work on, hopefully rejuvenating the employees and their creative processes.

In the actual incident, the employer decided to reorganize the teams to provide new challenges for the employees. As added benefits his employees were cross-trained so that it was easy to replace employees who left and this created a promotion track for the retained employees.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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