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All Work and No Play-Not Here

Top companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook have taught the rest of the business world that if you want to compete for the best, most innovative, most hard-working and dedicated employees, you need to offer them incredible perks, a great working environment and fun activities in return. A great paycheck is most important, of course, but so are the fringe benefits.

Based on a 2013 survey by PayScale, businessinsider.com listed some of the top national firms and their ground-breaking ways of rewarding employees. They included, but were not limited to, Cisco Systems which offers on-site physical therapy and acupuncture; Hershey Foods Corp. which offers discounted company fitness center membership for employees, spouses and dependents over 18; J.M. Smucker Company which offers 100 percent tuition reimbursement, sponsors softball games and bowling nights and sends a gift basket to every new hire; Johnson & Johnson allows employees to use a free concierge service to get chores (like picking up dry cleaning and returning library books) done; and Chesapeake Energy which offers free SCUBA certification classes and a 72,000-square-foot fitness center with an Olympic-sized pool, rock climbing wall, walking track and sand volleyball court.

Reebie Storage and Moving of Franklin Park is a local firm which has taken up the challenge, as well.

“We believe that we have both internal and external customers and when we make our internal customers happy with what they are doing, they do a better job and deliver better service to our external customers,” explained Sal Manso, president of the 170-employee firm.

“We started doing special things for our employees about ten years ago and we keep increasing it because we know that it works. They know we care and that matters,” he continued.

For instance, the movers are evaluated daily on a 16-point scale for hygiene, on-time performance, professionalism, no use of profanity, no accidents, no damaging of goods and even keeping their hair cut. Each quarter, they have the opportunity to earn a five percent bonus if they have fared well on this evaluation. So someone who makes $15,000 per quarter, for instance, has the opportunity to earn a $750 quarterly bonus. Seventy percent of his staff earns those bonuses, according to Manso.

“We offer this because it saves us on insurance claims and increases customer satisfaction,” he said.

Administrative personnel have the opportunity to sign up for a private, 20-minute full body massage during the work day during the busy, stressful summer months. In addition, a one-hour yoga class is held every Wednesday afternoon year-round and the company pays the instructor and gives interested employees the time off to attend and make themselves feel better, Manso said.

Healthy snacks are set out in baskets all around the office and there is a fitness center on the second floor of the office which is open 24/7 and open to all employees. They are issued key cards so they can access the facility any time they wish. Classes are also occasionally held there.

Special events are also part of the Reebie perk plan. Each year they send 150 of the movers and their families to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus at Allstate Arena, buying all the tickets and letting them sit in a huge block.

There is also an annual Lunch with Santa held for employees’ children. Each child is even presented with an age- and gender-appropriate gift.

Employees are also invited to a day at Arlington Park racetrack each summer. The company rents a tent and provides food and refreshments.

An annual holiday banquet for administrative staff is also held at a local banquet hall. Bonuses and awards, as well as length-of-service gifts, are presented at that time, according to Manso.

Porte-Brown LLC, an Elk Grove Village-based accounting firm with additional offices in McHenry, Evanston and Tinley Park, has been offering ever-increasing and unique activities and perks to their employees for at least 10 years, according to Pam Metzger, director of marketing.

“We have great health benefits, a profit-sharing plan that is amazing and the team is treated to endless events, parties and outings. Just recently we even created a new Team Building Committee and Wellness Committee,” she said.

“We are all about making our staff happy and fulfilled because we know it will translate into great client relationships. Clients often comment about the positive vibe at Porte Brown. In fact, we hear it so often that we decided to make it part of our brand. We stamp our website and various marketing communications with a ‘YES!’ slogan. It is an internal and external reminder that we are happy to help clients and we believe in a positive approach to client service,” she said

“In addition, our motto of ‘Ideas Really Matter’ is a big part of our success. We encourage employees to submit ideas about everything from new activities to

better recycling ideas to better workflow ideas,” Metzger said. “Then once a month anyone who has submitted an idea has a chance to spin a large wheel for an awesome prize. Last month it was an iPad.”

Among the fun activities the firm holds are Team Jigsaw Puzzle Challenges, an annual golf outing at Medinah Country Club, a holiday party and a firm-wide “Bags” Tournament. They also offer team-building games at their professional development meetings, daily food treats, an annual health screening, free flu shots, CPR classes, a blood drive and during tax season, on-site 15-minute chair massages are offered every Wednesday.

“People who are happy about their jobs tend to talk to their friends and family about it. Even our clients can sense that we like working here because everyone goes above and beyond what is expected,” she added. “We are known as a hard-working, get-it-done kind of firm, but we manage to make FUN a priority as well!”

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