Rather than stock options

By Sep 01, 2003

IN THE HEADY DAYS before the dot.com crash, hard-working code-heads came to expect pool tables and pinball machines to let off steam and enhance the quality of life on the job. Even outside the programming community, perks flew fast and furious. The most popular of all, of course, were stock options.

Then in 2000, the bottom fell out. Stocks imploded, layoffs followed, and the pool table was warehoused. Almost overnight, employee expectations from their jobs shifted, and if they had jobs at all, employees had different priorities when it comes to incentives.

According to research released this summer by Maritz, companies have cut back on equity compensation in favor of alternatives that can save money and motivate staff. “Unlike traditional commission-based incentive programs that award cash bonuses based on sales generation, the new breed of recognition programs award employees for creating ideas and achieving team goals,” says Mike Spellecy, VP of Fenton, MO-based Maritz Incentives. “While business conditions dictate lower raises and bonuses, companies with strong reward and recognition cultures do a better job of retaining employees and keeping them positive and focused on corporate goals.”

The most popular incentive programs this year include:

  • Shopping sprees at local retailers
  • All-expense paid vacations for individuals, their families or employee teams
  • Gift cards
  • Discounts at favorite restaurants
  • Spa treatments
  • Discounts on electronic equipment
  • Concierge services

And yet…as they work at regaining ground lost in the last three years, few companies seem to have restored any recognition or incentive programs. Maritz reports that 24% of its polling audience disagreed with the statement “I’m consistently recognized for my work performance in ways that are important to me,” and 22% disagreed with “I am regularly given feedback on how my work contributes to the success of my organization.” Sounds like a pat on the back might be a good place to start.