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Mini-Golf and Andrew Carnegie on the Wall: That’s What I Want in the Office

Posted by Jonathan Tannenbaum on June 26, 2008

Smart businesses create enjoyable work environments. People become more productive when they work in a fun office with pleasing ascetics. You can even turn your office into a virtual rec center and still get plenty of work done. Google, for instance, provides its employees with Foosball and video games, as well as free hot lunches. In the spirit of this approach, I want to throw out the changes I would most like to see in my office setting.

Mini-Golf. It doesn’t have to be a full 18 holes or anything fancy. As long as I could put while contemplating what to write, I would be a happier, more productive journalism intern. Ideas would come easier, smooth paragraph transitions would spring from my mind instantly: nothing facilitates the writing process – for me, anyway – like tapping that ball while I walk around a little bit. And I know my parent company has the room for it--it takes bout 45 minutes to walk across the floor I work on.

Inspiring Murals. At work, I shouldn’t have to surround myself with boring, old plaster board, or whatever it is my cubicle is made out of. I deserve a far more inspiring environment. When I type out material for an online business magazine, I want to look up at “Great Titans of Money.” John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Jay-Z: I want their gazes staring back at me from grand murals, as I do my job. Make no mistake, I’m not just talking about murals. I want the most evocative, awe-inspiring depictions someone could possibly produce.          

Soy Milk in the Fridge. I’ll admit it. I have a new-agey side (it’s very small, trust me). I like to drink soy milk to help take care of myself. Unfortunately, the coffee stand on the first floor of my building charges $4.50 for a slim carton of the good stuff. Companies today should start keeping it stocked in the fridge—especially with their big push for employee wellness in the forefront of HR’s mind. It will make employees (namely me) happy and give the nourishment they need.   

What’s on your office wish list?

Higher Air Line Prices Mean Companies Should Find Cool, New Incentives

Posted by Jonathan Tannenbaum on June 23, 2008

Now that the airline industry charges more for travel--jacking up costs for flights themselves and tacking on expenses for once free amenities (two dollars for a cup of orange juice anyone?)--businesses focused on travel as part of their incentive programs need to think outside the box. Arguably, there is no incentive more alluring than vacationing in a far-off location; but astute companies who decide to forgo the steep cost of travel this year should make up for it by adding stellar, new offerings to its pantry of goodies.

Employees often enjoy the thought of a vacation since it would mean spending a wonderful time with family or that special somebody. How about providing an comparable experience and allow an exceptional employee to devise a romantic weekend in a local city. For those on the East Coast, a trip to the Big Apple may not provide the same sense of “getting away,” but it’s hard to go wrong when dining at Tavern on the Green, attending a Broadway musical, staying in a nice hotel, etc.

Of course, the itinerary all comes down to the preferences of the employee in question. If he’s a sports fan and checks off going to a Yankee game instead of a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park for two, well, that’s between him and the missis.    

Another way companies can make up for jettisoning airline packages is by offering trips that involve travel by train. For many of us, the journey would certainly be less stressful: no security detail, long lines or spending a good chunk of time 50,000 feet above ground (Read one of our editor's experiences in a previous blog post when he chose to travel by other means than air). And for the hard worker seeking rest and relaxation, there’s no jetlag to deal with. Sure, San Francisco or Washington D.C. may not possess the magic of Spain or Paris, but you can still have a great time in local domestic locations. Being a New Jersey resident myself, I wouldn’t object if someone presented me the chance to go down to Maryland, hang out on the beach, eat seafood and play mini-golf.

And when you get down to it, besides the obvious cost-issue, there’s something that just doesn’t feel right about paying extra, for say, checking your bag or reserving a window seat. Even if these additional expenses may not raise the grand total of airline travel all that much, in your gut, you still know that’s its total nonsense. And that’s a reason in itself for companies to come up with sweat, new incentives.   

The Jobless Search

Posted by Avi Nimmer on June 17, 2008

This just in: recent graduates seek jobs with good benefits, high salaries and in prominent locations, according to a recent article on management-issues.com (http://www.management-issues.com/2008/6/12/research/american-graduates-facing-a-fight-for-jobs-this-summer.asp).

Alright. That probably came as a shock to very few; if we threw in short and flexible hours, it would probably be everybody’s dream job. What I have found shocking, however, is how hard it is to find any job nowadays.

I go to a well-respected college, I like to consider myself fairly bright and I am currently residing in

New York City

(population: 8.2 million!), but I have had immense difficulty finding a job.

I’M NOT PICKY, either.

Some of my more desperate job-hunting attempts have included being a driver and worker for 1800 GOT-JUNK (it’s exactly what it sounds like) numerous waitering positions and even driving a bicycle taxi around the city.

I have had one success: after applying for a writing position; submitting my resume, cover letter and numerous pre-written samples; being interviewed; and finally submitting more newly-written samples, I was offered a position…for a non-paid internship!

I have no right to complain, though: no matter what I decide to do, I know that in three months time, I will be done with my job and back in the classroom. Recent graduates, on the other hand, need to choose a job knowing it could entail spending eight hours a day in the same office for potentially years to come.

When making such a significant life decision, there are many important factors to analyze. Certainly, location, benefits, and money are large incentives, but there are perhaps even more important factors (gast): meaningfulness of work, comradely of coworkers and being in an environment where you enjoy yourself.

Given the current state of the economy, it’s hard to be picky when looking for a job—beggars can’t be choosers—but from a managerial perspective, providing a good work environment and sustaining a happy workforce are definitely key to attracting and retaining effective workers.

A lot of money and benefits don’t hurt, either.


Posted by Leo Jakobson on June 10, 2008

I came across an interesting little tidbit about an incentive supplier recently while surfing the Web. It seems a former British Navy officer was recently reunited with the gold Bulova watch he dropped. From the deck of the HMS Repulse. Into Gibraltar Harbor. In 1941. It was still ticking when workers dredging the harbor found it. In 2007.

Because then-Lieutenant Teddy Bacon had reported his loss, the workers were eventually able to trace him and return the watch. Now 89, Bacon reportedly told Britian’s Daily Mail, “'To say I was stunned could be considered a major understatement … Now I wear it every day and it keeps perfect time, even after all those years in the water. It is absolutely excellent and I consider it a long-lost friend.”

And for the record, Lieutenant Bacon nearly suffered the same fate as his watch. On Dec. 10, 1941, the World War I-era battlecruiser was struck by several Japanese torpedoes and sank. According to the BBC, 513 of its crew lost their lives.

Water From Home

Posted by Leo Jakobson on June 03, 2008

Next month, I’ll be leaving New York to attend the Incentive Marketing Association’s Ninth Annual Executive Summit in Boston, and I won’t be flying. I’ll be doing something I haven’t done since my early teens—I’ll be taking Amtrak. And, apparently, I’m not alone.

According to a story in the San Francisco Examiner, ridership on the Northeast Corridor line I’ll be taking rose more than 11 percent from October to April, and nationally, the quasi-public company has seen a more than 10 percent increase nationally in that period. A spokesperson attributed the jump to spiraling gas prices, but speculated that growing flight delays and maddening security lines may also be responsible. For me, it’s the latter.

Now, as a New Yorker, my choices are JFK, LaGuardia or Newark airports, which is rather like being given your choice of hanging, electrocution or lethal injection. And, as I live in Manhattan, owning a car is ludicrous (average monthly parking garage fee: $400-ish, and far more in Midtown) even without gas prices at $4 a gallon and everyone resigned to $5 soon.

Continue reading "Water From Home" »

Where Are We?

Posted by Stacy Straczynski on June 02, 2008

Kaub_rhineDo you recognize this destination?

Test your travel knowledge and e-mail [email protected] with your answer, and be entered into a drawing for a $100 Marriott® TravelCard®.

Last month’s picture featured a cliff diver at Acapulco, Mexico. Congratulations to winner Joyce Vantrease of Villa Travel Service in Lebanon, Tenn.