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Best Places To Work 2010 Theme: Tasty Delights
By Andy Cohen
eptember, 2010

If there’s one clear fact that’s proven from the Best Places to Work companies this year, it’s this: The way to employees’ hearts is through their stomachs.

Indeed, many companies on this year’s list of top workplaces in the ad specialty industry use food to win over the loyalty of their workers. Call it the Full Factor, where satiated employees equal motivated employees.

It’s something that distributor BrandVia Alliance (asi/145037) certainly recognizes. While the company made a point of over-communicating to its employees last year and reporting the financial status of the organization to all staffers on a monthly basis – plus maintaining its periodic recognition awards, 401(k) plans and its incentive program that gives $1,000 to any employee who purchases an eco-friendly car – it also used motivational programs that regularly feed employees.

BrandVia Alliance had a Family Night where its employees and their families were treated to an afternoon barbecue and then a San Jose Giants baseball game at night. Plus, the company provides donuts and bagels every Friday morning and cinnamon bread every Wednesday – it obviously firmly believes in the power of starting off the day with a full belly. Even more, they have cake and ice cream once a month to celebrate employee birthdays. Their motto: "We like food at BrandVia!"

And they’re most definitely not alone. The Sunshine Group (asi/339525) is another distributor on the Best Places to Work list that subscribes to the food-as-motivator theory. The company’s employees have lunch together a few times a week, and management regularly schedules dinners and events that include spouses and significant others of employees. Plus, there are planned wine tastings and family barbecues throughout the year.

It’s all in an effort to create camaraderie and a team atmosphere that people will enjoy working in. "We have an environment where we are quite open and honest with each other and we know one another very well," a company spokesperson says. "We are friends and coworkers, we work well together and we all respect each other. We listen to one another’s ideas, share in each other’s successes and missteps, and all of us pitch in to help one another."

Now, that’s some powerful food they’re eating during their company outings. Other companies incorporate food into their regular incentive programs. Sonic Promos (asi/329865) promises to take all of its employees out to a nice restaurant for lunch whenever the company meets its monthly sales goals. And, the company even recently took employees who completed an educational program in a specific time frame out to a nice lunch.

Another distributor, Custom Logos (asi/173183), provides Starbucks coffee and Arrowhead water for all of its employees, as well as bagels every Monday morning. And, managers are given unlimited coupons for a free lunch at a local sandwich shop and told to hand them out to staffers who they think are exceeding expectations.

Identification Services/Halls & Co. (asi/59080), one of the suppliers on the Best Places to Work list, has what it calls Cookie Thursdays, where all employees are treated to fresh cookies every Thursday afternoon.

And, when all of the food has been consumed, it’s time for Happy Hour at other Best Places to Work companies. iClick (asi/62124) has "Beer Thirty," where beer is available for everybody in the company after 3:30 on Fridays. Just a half-hour later, Moore Exposure (asi/276255) closes at 4 p.m. every Friday and drinks are made available to every employee over 21.

As they say, "It’s a great opportunity to bond with coworkers and talk about events of the week." – AC

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