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Sunday, Oct 1, 2023

PUBLISHER’S NOTEBOOK–Companies Keeping Employees in Mind

Now that the stock markets are correcting for reality, more and more of us are thinking about how to grow our company in the next four or five years to keep our stock prices rising.

The answer to that question might just be making life as enjoyable for your employees as you can. Fortune magazine’s annual “Top l00 Companies to Work For” list in January had only one San Diego company make the list. Qualcomm Inc. came in at No. 14, up from No. 47 the year before.

We can pretty much guess why Qualcomm was chosen. The stock soared 1,500 percent in l999 alone. But there is more to them than the stock price and options. They support their employees with tuition reimbursement, pay 100 percent of health insurance premiums, have onsite fitness centers and give millions to local charities and causes, all of which makes saying you’re a Qualcomm employee a very big deal.

What are some of the other things companies give? Massages; free prescriptions, including Prozac and Viagra, if you work for Lilly or Pfizer, respectively; eight-week sabbaticals after seven years; cruises; or gardening plots on company land.

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Some offer vacation trips around the world for meeting major goals; subsidized meals in the employee cafeteria; guitar or other music lessons on the job; and 40 hours of paid vacation to use for community projects.

There are loaner cars if yours breaks down; SUVs to drive for a year with perfect attendance; three months a year to care for elderly parents or a sick child or spouse; and on-the-spot bonuses for exceptional performance.

Still other companies give employees free haircuts and manicures; use of company airplanes for family emergencies; and shoeshines. AOL even gives two free Internet accounts to each employee so one can be given to a friend. The list goes on.

It just goes to show you while employees want to be paid a fair wage, just as importantly they want to be recognized as playing a part in the company’s success.

If your company is small and the list above too costly, there are free and low-cost perks that will build team morale and increase performance measurably.

For instance, we bought a real popcorn machine and paid off the purchase price by raising our soft drink price by 10 cents. In three months it was paid for.

We offer massages by a licensed professional on Fridays, but they are paid for by the employees. Sometimes for a job well done, the company will reward the performance with a free massage.

We serve pretzels, bagels and doughnuts on Thursdays because it is deadline day for our paper. All these things lead to better performance and more frequent smiles.

Written thank-you notes, a reserved parking space for the employee of the month, monthly conversations with your teammates in a group session, employee of the month awards and other simple but effective things cost nearly nothing, but again provide positive reinforcement and boost morale.

Last year, the Business Journal teamed with the Ken Blanchard Cos. to put on the first-ever Best Companies to Work for in San Diego. While Qualcomm made the national list, we are justifiably proud of our first Top 20 Best Companies.

The winners were: AppleOne Employment Services; Concepts Worldwide; 1st Net Technologies; Fieldstone Communities, Inc.; Marotz, Inc.; SupplyPro; WebSideStory; Acucorp, Inc.; Cloud 9 Shuttle; Escondido Community Health Center; Handlery Hotel & Resort; Kyocera America, Inc.; North Island Federal Credit Union; Roel Construction Co.; Teal Electronics Corp.; Cox Communications-San Diego; Four Seasons Resort Aviara; SAIC; SeaWorld San Diego and Sempra Energy.

If you have a unique employee motivation tool, drop me a line at towen@sdbj.com and let me know.

The usual stock and financial perks are always appreciated, but are not the only things that make employees jump for joy because they work for a company. Being appreciated and being told so are a big part of the recipe for a company’s success.

To the balance sheet.

Credit: To Dr. Herb York, founding chancellor of UCSD, for receiving the prestigious Vannevar Bush Award for his leadership in the arms control movement and his work in nuclear energy. Dr. York was the founder of the University of California Global Conflict and Cooperation Institute, headquartered at UCSD. He will receive the award May 3 in New York from the National Science Board, the policy-making arm of the National Science Foundation. Congratulations, Dr. York, you are one of a kind.

Credit: To Carol Wallace and her team at the San Diego Convention Center for being named one of the top three convention centers in the world for the second year in a row. In addition to winning the award, the center is further recognized because it is the only center in the United States to be honored.

The center was nominated by its clients. More than 80,000 ballots were mailed by Meetings and Incentive Travel magazine to international event organizations, and our Convention Center snagged the award for the second time. Congratulations to Carol and her team at America’s Finest Convention Center.

Debit: To the activists who are voicing opposition to the berthing of the historic aircraft carrier USS Midway here in San Diego. A team of very dedicated local business leaders and staff from the Navy have been working diligently for years to bring the carrier here to become a floating museum.

When you are the largest military port in the free world with thousands of active-duty military personnel and dozens of ships, isn’t it appropriate we have a floating naval museum? Now, in the 11th hour, the Audubon Society and the Environmental Health Coalition are protesting the ship’s arrival. One of the complaints is the loss of a view corridor when the ship is berthed at Navy Pier next to the Navy Supply Center just south of Broadway.

What view corridor, anyway? The only thing you can see right now is the Supply Center pier and its warehouse/offices.

At any rate, why is it so difficult to get something useful and revenue generating approved? The “whine” and cheese society is alive and well in this region. I know I’ll hear from the bird and habitat protectors, but sometimes the only endangered species is the local citizen.


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