Reno, Nev. Workers Choose Lunch Over $3,000 Bonus

According to research, workers stay longer in jobs where they feel recognized.

Would you rather receive a $3,000 bonus or a free lunch every week with your coworkers? You might assume most workers would choose the money, especially because such a bounty is the rough equivalent of a $60 meal per week, before taxes. But as Fast Company recently reported, the 10-person local team of the Reno, Nevada company, pictured right, unanimously opted for the free weekly lunch over the bank account boost.

For starters, why was such a choice even given to the workers at ShortStack, a tech startup that designs custom Facebook pages? Simple: the free Friday lunches -- a tradition since it was founded in 2011 -- got expensive as the company's staff grew. So CEO and founder Jim Belosic says his accountant suggested that it might just make more sense to dispense with the free lunch and simply give workers a bonus check instead.

When Belosic asked his staffers whether they'd prefer the money over the group meal, the answer was unanimous: 10-0 in favor of lunch. "It shocked our CPA that everyone is happy and choosing camaraderie," he told the business publication.

Shortstack public relations manager Sara Piccola, for her part, explained to AOL Jobs why it was easy to turn down the money. "We're already paid really well," she said. "I would rather go out to lunch with my workers, who are really my friends, then receiving a one-time payment."

In prioritizing camaraderie over the check, the ShortStack workers are not alone. Much research shows that "engagement" and recognition makes for happy and productive workers. Last year's widely cited Towers-Watson global workforce study of 32,000 global workers, for instance, found that just one in five workers with the highest scores on the survey's "sustainable engagement" scale were likely to leave their job over the next two years. The number jumped to two in five for workers with lower scores. ("Sustainable engagement" was defined by the study as having a work environment that promotes workers' physical, emotional and social well-being.)

And it appears the importance of working in a collegial environment has other benefits, too. According to the Harvard Business Review, workers who feel they have a boss who unfairly criticizes them or doesn't listen to their concerns have a 30 percent higher chance of coronary disease than workers who say they have managers who treat them with respect.

In fact, for Belosic, the mission to create an environment where his workers feel like they are actual human beings engaged with their colleagues is paramount. And so during the weekly team lunches, work-related discussion is forbidden.

What makes you happy in a job? Is it money -- or something else?

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Do these people take 1/2 of Friday off or something? Seemingly it's therapeutic and creates a healthy environment for the workers providing they don't eat and drink at same old places but eating out in a group like that would take about 2 hours or longer at the restaurant.

September 10 2013 at 3:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Michele Brancato

good I just hope there are no IRS agents or haters reading this and turn them in to the IRS for not paying taxes on that meal and report it as a perk God knows that the Government would fold without it

September 10 2013 at 2:53 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

They are either completely nuts or they're very well paid to begin with.

September 10 2013 at 2:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"His accountant suggested that it might just make more sense to dispense with the free lunch and simply give workers a bonus check instead"

Want to ruin a business? Let an accountant run it. Bean counters are fantastic at counting beans. But I have yet to meet one that had a lick of business sense.

Running a business is more then just numbers on a ledger sheet. Its aout knowing how to deal with people and sometimes if you give a little. Long term you gain a lot

September 10 2013 at 1:55 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Do you see any face there over 30 years old? So i guess it's true then that people over the age of 30 and god help those in their 40's and 50's have zero chance of getting jobs at companies like these. Too bad these companies don't appreciate the value their parents can offer.

September 10 2013 at 1:26 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

It's surprising really how many employers completely miss the opportunity to have a more productive and tenured workforce in favor of the negative nose to the grindstone approach. I worked for years for companies where the management attitude was that nothing was ever enough and if you don't like it, we'll find someone who will--which given what it costs to hire, train and orient someone into the environment, as well as lost productivity, makes absolutely no sense from a valid business perspective. My husband works for a privately owned company where firing people--at least a couple a month--is standard practice to keep people on their toes and afraid for their jobs everyday. It's sick--and costly, but it maintains the power structure with the employer. Tech companies (like the one in the article) tend to have very loose and comfortable working environments--any place where you have younger, smart and creative people, the chances are it's that way. They will take their skills elsewhere--and they can.

September 10 2013 at 1:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sally's comment

go get a real job would ya

September 10 2013 at 1:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No $&%#, they aren't aren't CEO's cause they'd scream bloody murder if they weren't given the meal and the bonus too.

September 10 2013 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to leighfoulkes314's comment

jealous of people who make money are ya such a ignorant liberal you are

September 10 2013 at 1:47 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Christopher's comment


September 10 2013 at 2:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

It really depends on whether you like your co-workers or not.

September 10 2013 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NOW... this is a newsworthy story, thank you AOL Jobs ! Wise chose to the group.

I leaned this from a college professor of "Marriage and Family Living" 1981 class at El Camino college (Torrance, CA) from Mr. Brown, happily married man for 30+ years there is 100% contentment in a day, you should get 90 % from the job and ONLY expect 10% at home, rather than the other way around. Family values first after God.... leads to more successful living. Thank you again, Mr. Brown!

September 10 2013 at 12:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to insurancehunter's comment

Sorry for the misspellings... Wise CHOICE / I LEARNED

September 10 2013 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

you need a drink

September 10 2013 at 1:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the old ways always has worked thats why they got old .

September 10 2013 at 12:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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