IKEA Surprises Workers with New Wheels

Discussion
Dec 10, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The company has a reputation for being a great place to work and for taking
care of its employees. So, it’s not a huge surprise that it would give
its co-workers (the company term) a gift for the holidays.
What was surprising is that the unexpected gift IKEA gave its employees was
a bicycle — one for every each of its 12,400 employees in the U.S.

Mona Liss, a spokesperson
for IKEA, told The Philadelphia Inquirer
that 2010 has proven to be "a good year" and co-workers were being
rewarded for "great results and great team work."

Added bonuses of
giving the unnamed brand bikes (assembly required), Ms. Liss told the paper,
was they would help support  "a healthy lifestyle" while
providing "everyday sustainable transport."

Luz Morales, a co-worker
at IKEA, told the Inquirer, "It’s
such a cool gift, and ties in with our tagline of being ‘the life-improvement
store.’"

Discussion Questions: What do you think of IKEA’s gift to its co-workers?
What end-of-year gifts have you gotten from employers that stick out in your
mind?

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14 Comments on "IKEA Surprises Workers with New Wheels"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 5 months ago

Bicycles are a great idea. They promote well-being and a healthy lifestyle. That being said, I bet a number of their workers, if asked, would have preferred cash.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
10 years 5 months ago

Companies like IKEA, Trader Joe’s, Apple, Zappos, Google, etc. Can get away with quirky gifts like this that are in keeping with their image. For everybody else, I’d advise cash or a gift certificate. Inevitably, there will be employees who don’t want a bike or already have one but would really put the cash equivalent to good use.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 5 months ago

Any recognition from one’s company is usually welcomed and generally appreciated. And a blue bike that has to be assembled is much better than an already assembled pink slip. So keep those bikes coming, IKEA.

Fabien Tiburce
Guest
Fabien Tiburce
10 years 5 months ago

Good PR move. They’ll get press for this and associate themselves with green healthy living. Of course shipping furniture across the ocean (if plat-packed) and selling it at stores that typically require the use of a motorized vehicle isn’t exactly “green”…But kudos to IKEA nonetheless. I’d rather see them open smaller downtown stores if they are indeed committed to reducing their ecological footprint but distributing bicycles is a step in the right direction.

Kevin Graff
Guest
10 years 5 months ago

What’s not to love about this idea? In my view, gifts are often better than cash. Not that cash isn’t appreciated or needed, but it often just disappears and there’s no lasting memory. A gift sticks around and continues to add value (providing its a good one!).

What’s the best gift I ever received from an employer? I don’t ever recall getting a good one. I guess that’s why I decided to work for myself 🙂

Having said this, the pressure is now squarely on me to go out and buy my team great gifts this year.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
10 years 5 months ago

I have to wonder if the employees in the U.S. who got the bikes are really thrilled and if the PR the company gets for giving them away is going to help them to become a place where people want to work or shop.

As one of the post suggests, a blue bike is better than a pink slip but is it better than cash in today’s economic times or maybe even a gift catalog where employees could pick out what they would really like to have?

When you give the same gift to 12,000 people, I am not sure that you are going to get a very big WOW from most of them.

The key to reward and recognition is to reward and recognize people the way they want to be rewarded and recognized.

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
10 years 5 months ago

IKEA’s gift to their co-workers is spot on the money. First, it promotes a healthy lifestyle and where practical, a sustainable alternative to vehicular transportation. Additionally, if only 10% of their co-workers actually use the bike and it improves their fitness, it may well decrease the cost of health care for IKEA.

Is the above comment pie in the sky rationalizations in keeping with politically correct views on sustainability?

Probably, maybe it is as simple as IKEA coming up with a nice way to say “Thanks and Merry Christmas!”

Jerome Schindler
Guest
10 years 5 months ago

I remember in the early ’90s when I was working for Borden at their administrative headquarters. The company gave each employee a holiday bonus consisting of a small box of Cracker Jacks and a $5.00 gift certificate to use at the company store. Sometimes it’s better to do nothing at all.

Anne Howe
Guest
10 years 5 months ago

I’m in the same camp as Kevin Graff on this one. And like IKEA, life improvement is one of my company core values and a big reason I hung out my own consulting shingle. I’d LOVE a gift that has a visceral connection to a core company value. It’s so much more memorable than cash. Personally, I can’t ride a bike all winter, but would happily sell or re-gift a bike and use the cash for a fitness membership.

What I like as much or more than the IKEA gift effort is the practice of referring to its employees as co-workers. Nice touch and I’m guessing it’s effective in making employees feel like a part of something more human than a giant, global big box retailer.

Happy Holidays!

Janet Poore
Guest
Janet Poore
10 years 5 months ago

IKEA HQ and a store are near my home, in a building next to a big-box shopping center, in an industrial, high car traffic area. Not a place where one would safely ride a bike to work.

The bikes is a cute idea and gets IKEA PR, but I’ll bet if given the chance, most employees would have preferred cash–especially now, and many of them probably already own bikes.

I’d be interested in seeing how many of these “special edition” IKEA bikes end up on eBay.

Sara Ashton
Guest
Sara Ashton
10 years 5 months ago

Cash is the best gift…and best given at the BEGINNING of the holiday season when it is needed most.

The worst company gift I received was a frozen 20 pound turkey on Christmas Eve. Bad choice because 1) we couldn’t use it for Christmas because it would not be defrosted in time and 2) we purchased our turkey in advance (like most people)!

Another holiday “gift” that I thought was in poor form was throwing a holiday dinner where the invite stated that, “Employees will be responsible for paying spouse’s tab.” The restaurant wasn’t even high end; more like $25 per person!

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
10 years 5 months ago

“Added bonuses of giving the unnamed brand bikes (assembly required).”

Assembly required: HA! HA!…it IS IKEA after all. A gift is a gift, and it’s churlish to question something–Schindler’s example may be the exception that proves the rule–but unless a company is buying something at a substantial discount from what the employees themselves would pay, cash is actually preferable (unimaginative though it may be).

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 5 months ago

Top five employee questions about their IKEA bike bonus:
5. Is it shipped in a flat box?
4. Is it packed with a weird-looking hex key?
3. Does it smell faintly of gløgg?
2. Will you help me tie it on top of my car?
1. Does it come with a helmet?

But seriously folks, this is a pretty nice idea on balance. Bikes are healthy and fun. They can be re-gifted to our kids. And hopefully (consult your adviser on this) they won’t be taxed as income.

John Lofstock
Guest
John Lofstock
10 years 5 months ago

There is definitely a trend in the workplace to help employees get healthy. With Obamacare looming, employers are just starting to figure out that healthier employees contributes to a better rate on insurance premiums. I do, however, wish there was a way to track how many of these bikes actually get used and how many end up for sale on eBay or Craigslist.

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