Opinion: There’s nothing like a free banana

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Commentary by Jon Quick

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a smart cookie. There’s a good chance that his HQ2, as it’s being called, could end up in Indianapolis. Some are doubtful; others think Indy is the perfect place. We all agree it would be a gold mine for the region. But let’s set that aside. One of the reasons Amazon is called one of the greatest places to work are the perks for employees. That is something any businessperson could learn from.

Sure, they have health insurance, a 401K, vacation and paid time off. Pretty common,  even in this economy.

But it’s other things that produce a more employer-friendly environment that almost matters more to enhance quality of life in today’s at-work society:

  • Parking for carpools
  • Bike Storage
  • Child care
  • Free food, including fresh bananas every day
  • Energy-efficient buildings

And for dog lovers who don’t have a place for their furry pup while at work, well, just bring Fido along. There are almost 300 at work every day at HQ1 in Seattle.

For 14 years, I worked for another Bezos-type right here in Indianapolis. Another Jeff. His name is Smulyan. He always put people first. Every summer, the top managers would grill burgers and dogs for employees every month. There was an annual picnic at his home. Stock matching. A “Great Idea Contest” where people could win shares of company stock. A free share of stock for every new baby born to an employee. There were times when people would come around with free ice cream bars.

Point is this: Sometimes, it’s the small things that make an employee feel really special. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money, that’s the beauty of it. Get out of the carpeted office. Take some time to walk around and thank every member of your staff. Have a bring-your-dog-to-work day. Make the vending machines free for a day or two or three.

Think about it. What have you done lately to reward your employees in an ongoing effort to make your business one of the best place to work in Indiana? The rewards you receive in return could be extraordinary.

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