Companies are shelling out free money, trips and meals to hard working employees
Being employee of the month pays.
Companies are rewarding their staff with free money, trips and meals simply for a job well done.
At Gregory’s Coffee, a hip New York-based cafe chain with a mix of espresso, macchiatos, muffins and scones, employees vie for the coveted “VIB” award — very important barista.
A manager at each of its 26 locations chooses a caffeinated team member who went over the top with customer service, and each month the chosen one gets their photo and an interview posted on the java chain’s website, in addition to a gift card for free dinner of their choice.
“It’s all about making sure their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed,” founder Gregory Zamfotis tells Moneyish.
Zamfotis says he dishes out around $2,000 a month just on the employee rewards program. And each year, he throws an epic awards party called “The Greggies,” what he calls the “Oscars of coffee awards,” giving out superlatives like the foam-filled “Best Latte Artist.” The baristas trade their aprons for suits and dresses at the annual event which features a celebrity-esq step and repeat, live DJs, catering and booze. Last year, the party was held at Brooklyn Winery. Staff recognized for the awards can get a free trip to coffee competitions in cities like Seattle and Providence, or gifts like fancy coffee equipment.
“They appreciate it and they pay me back by just working hard, caring about the company and making great coffee every day,” says Zamfotis.
And at The Westin Galleria hotel in Dallas, staff members awarded with the coveted Employee of the Month title walk away with a $150 check. The prize money comes with one free paid day off and a priority parking spot or a transit pass for those who don’t drive. The winner is nominated by guests of the hotel, colleagues and managers. The latest recipient, a concierge, recently went out of her way to help victims of Hurricane Harvey with travel arrangements, and ensured they had ample food and drink during their stay.
Recognition is refreshing for employees. Last year, a staggering 40% employees said they weren’t recognized at all, according to a study by software solutions company Globoforce. Getting a pat on the back and feeling appreciated at work has a direct correlation with an employee’s happiness. Eighty-six percent of people say they feel happier and prouder at work as a result of being recognized, while 70% said they felt happier at home, according to the same report.
Some bosses will even give a little PDA — public displays of appreciation on social media. The Michelin-starred chef and perfectionist Daniel Boulud, who used to shine a laser pointer on his chef’s cutting boards to point out bad knife skills, took to his own personal Instagram recently to post a selfie with himself and a steward named Henry, congratulating him for his “great work and kindness.” Boulud presented the gleaming kitchen aide with a certificate of achievement.
Similarly, chef Katie Button, of Heirloom Hospitality Group in Asheville, North Carolina, posts about her do-gooders on the company Facebook and Instagram accounts. Every month, a front-of-house and back-of-house worker will get an interview posted, and a $20 gift card.
“We get so bogged down with correcting people in the restaurant industry in particular, we’re striving for perfection – we’re constantly picking on things that need improvement,” says Button. “You really need to try to plan out time in your management meetings to recognize the good stuff.”
The chef, who oversees the food and drink programs at tapas restaurant Cúrate and craft cocktail and small plates eatery Nightbell, says the incentive is a way to get employees to grow with the company. She’s had servers become managers and line cooks who worked their we up to chef de cuisine.
“It’s not a lot, but it’s a little nod,” says Button, of the reward program. To celebrate the team, once a year she orchestrates annual picnics and soccer games against neighboring restaurant groups.
“It helps them be recognized for a great job,” she says.
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