Local Cos. Reward Employees With a Good Time

The Star Tribune reported that an increasing number of local companies are experimenting with ways to make work fun for their employees; efforts include everything from reviving company picnics to daily in-house foosball games and dinner-and-drink outings.

Local companies are finding that a good time can also be good for business.

According to a new Star Tribune report, an increasing number of local companies are finding ways to make it fun for employees to come to work.

After a brutal recession, 3M, Graco, Target, UnitedHealth Group, and Mosaic have all reportedly scheduled big employee picnics this year. Others are bringing back company picnics, hosting movie nights, or planning office outings to Twins or Saints games.

“Salary budgets are back; 401(k) matches are coming back. And now this is that final component with companies saying, 'We are spending money on pay and benefits, now let us invest in our culture again and make sure that morale is getting back to where it was. Let's have fun again,'” Eric Gonzaga, a Minneapolis-based managing director for the compensation and benefits consulting giant Grant Thornton, told the Star Tribune.

Edina-based Accredited Investors, Inc., is experimenting with other types of what it's calling “employee engagement.” At 4:45 on any given afternoon, a daily foosball tournament is taking place. Twelve of the firm's 36 financial advisors face off as fellow co-workers cheer them on and enjoy company-provided pop and lattes. Company principal Kathy Longo told the Star Tribune that the foosball games, cozy fireplace, and Friday barbecues encourage employees to work hard and play hard.

Along the same lines, Minneapolis-based benefits consulting firm Cleveland Company recently gathered employees and spent several hours packing meals for the hungry before going out for dinner and drinks on the company's dime.

And Bloomington-based The Nerdery, formerly Sierra Bravo Corporation, sponsors Friday night “Bottle Cap” keggers for its 200 employees and a “Nerd Olympics,” according to the Star Tribune. Its newly expanded space houses a “Nerd-a-torium,” a 250-seat theater in which the company hosts employee movie nights, pizza parties, and other fun events. The company also gives its employees yoga, a masseuse, and video arcade games.

“A lot of our human resource [clients] say they are focused on employee engagement and are trying to make the workplace fun,” Mary Younggren, owner of the Advent Group, Inc., employment agency in Edina, told the Star Tribune. “It's a buzzword right now and a tool that prevents people from jumping ship. If workers are engaged and are happy, they will stay where they are.”

According to the Star Tribune, companies are realizing that their employees got them through the recession and want to reward them. To read more about company efforts to reward employees in the Minneapolis newspaper's story, click here.