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Boost employee morale at low cost with surprise days off

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in Human Resources

Your organization is trying to hold the line on benefits costs, but you still want to offer competitive perks.

One good way: Provide extra days off—a low-cost benefit that employees highly value. Organizations of all sizes can use the tactic:

  • A medical consulting firm in Houston gives employees a half-day off if monthly sales rise at least 15% over the same month a year ago. In 2003, sales rose at least that much during nine of 12 months.
  • Gen-Probe, a San Diego biotech firm, reduced some benefits but instituted nine-hour workdays, giving employees every other Friday off.
  • Procter & Gamble (P&G) surprised employees with two extra vacation days as a reward for the company’s improved stock performance.

When P&G hit its stock target, the company gave employees the option to take two days’ pay in lieu of the leave—but most chose the leave. Why? Employees often consider time more valuable than extra pay. They might soon forget how they spent the extra cash, but they’ll probably remember what they did with the additional time off.

Tips: Urge your company to tie days off to a specific goal, achievement or duty. Other options include: giving employees a day off before a holiday, such as Thanksgiving, or holding a “day-off” drawing for monthly top performers.

Don’t reward “free” days frequently or employees will come to view them as entitlements.

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