Friday, May 19, 2006

Cheers for Towel Service in the Locker Room

When is towel service in the locker room an employee retention tool? When employee feedback tells you it's something that employees want.

Kudos to Lisa Brummel, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Microsoft for spending the last year gathering feedback from employees. In an email to employees she said, "Maintaining and strengthening the employee experience is one of the highest priorities for [Chief Executive] Steve [Ballmer], the leadership team and me."

As reported in the Seattle Times, after listening to employees, Microsoft today unveiled a series of changes designed to address employees' concerns and improve their work experience.

Along with restoring towel service in the locker rooms (which evoked loud applause when announced), substantive changes were also included such as:
- 15 percent budgetary increase for employee stock awards

- major expansion of space to relieve overcrowding

- restructuring of the numerical performance rating system

- career development planning

- enhanced tuition and child care benefits

- a variety of services including dry cleaning, grocery delivery and to-go meals from Wolfgang Puck

Obviously these changes are going to require a substantial financial investment on Microsoft's behalf. It would be interesting to see their ROI calculations. Clearly HR executive Brummel and Chief Executive Ballmer recognize the great return that Microsoft will receive in the form of reduced turnover, greater employee productivity and ability to recruit the best employees. Listening to your employees does pay off.

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