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When the Chicago offices of marketing agency Upshot burned down in 1997, some of the employees spent a year working out of a local bar. Safely ensconced in new digs, the 156-member staff still likes to drink together—so they tap a keg in the office at 5:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.

Some who attend the happy hour at the ultra-casual office wear neckties or blue suits because Thursdays are optional “Dress for Success” days, all part of management’s efforts to engage its staff, composed mostly of Gen Y’ers.

Many of the perks were conceived by a group of employees who call themselves “Pulse,” which recommends ways the company can liven things up.

Another idea the organization adopted: Each employee gets $500 to $1,000 a year to spend on personal growth—a sum many use for classes and conferences.

Contact: CEO Brian Kristofek, (312) 943-0900.

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