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Pay Your Employees with Pizza

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Employee satisfaction is not always easy to gauge. One of the toughest jobs IT management faces today is the issue of how to hire the right talent at the right price, and how to keep that talent in the office. While it can be difficult to retain good employees, it’s certainly not impossible.

Interestingly enough, most people don’t require huge cash bonuses or major promotions as a condition of happiness at work. Beyond the traditional raises and bonuses, there are plenty of alternative ways to keep employee satisfaction high and avoid losing experienced talent.

Technology giants like Google, Apple and Facebook are known for their innovative compensation methods. For instance, Google offers free meals, daycare, and allows employees to bring pets at work. Facebook offers flexible work schedules and gives everyone a company phone. Dell has an entire game room dedicated for employees and Apple will occasionally give gifts for a job well done.  These types of perks make employees feel valued and keep them invested in the company.

I realize most of the people reading this blog won’t have the resources to create huge game rooms or offer daycare to their employees, but there are definitely smaller scale initiatives you can take on.

For example, once you become a full-time employee at Datto, you get a free membership to a local gym. For me, this is an awesome perk. We also have a dedicated “break room” in the office. The room has two comfy couches, a TV, a PS3 and some game controllers. There are also rumors circulating that Datto might have a margarita machine installed in the kitchen!

Studies also show that employees who are comfortable at work will work longer hours in the office.  Datto stocks its kitchen and fridge with snacks that everyone has access to. If employees feel that they don’t need to leave the office every time they are hungry, it increases satisfaction AND productivity. In effect, you are giving employees a “social raise,” and it is a tactic that’s been proven to work.

Datto’s development team frequently puts in extra hours for the promise of a pizza delivery. A simple order of some delicious pies helps ease the pain of staying late to complete a project. This is not only good for the sake of satisfaction, but is good for team building as well.

When I was discussing this blog with Datto’s CEO, Austin McChord, he shared an interesting insight. He estimated that if the amenities provided in the office encourage every employee at Datto to work two additional hours per week, the cumulative amount of additional time worked over the course of a year would equal the output of five additional employees. Amazing! This shows that providing perks like pizza and snacks can make good business sense too.

We can see how pizza pays off - lets take a look a 20-person MSP shop. If spending $100 dollars a week on snacks and pizza helps employees put in an extra 2 hours a week, that results in a gain of 2,080 man hours per year. Seeing as a typical employee also works 2,080 hours a year, the employer just gained the work of one extra person for just $5,200 a year. If the average employee at this shop costs $50K a year that would mean the business just saved itself $44,800.

It’s clear that there has to be some sort of balance between perks and actual compensation to retain employees, but thinking outside of the box can really help improve company morale and actually save the company money.

And I’m curious, what kinds of perks do you give your employees? How do you fight the employee retention battle?

Shannon Kohn is Marketing & Channel Relations Director at Datto. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all Datto guest contributions here.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Kevin Gaither (not verified)
on May 9, 2012
Thanks Shannon. Great stuff. Can you point me to the studies that you reference in your post above? "Studies also show that employees who are comfortable at work will work longer hours in the office." Been looking for something like this for months now.
Joe Panettieri (not verified)
on May 8, 2012
I never, ever post the first comment on a blog. But, the pizza got me... During my early days at CMP Media (InformationWeek, 1992-1996), Thursday nights were dinner nights and Friday mornings were breakfast mornings -- with the entire editorial staff. It was the only way we stayed focused amid tense magazine deadlines. Great way to keep a team close. Thanks for sharing some info about Datto's culture. I'm intrigued. And hungry... -jp
Shannon Kohn (not verified)
on May 11, 2012
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