Life at an entrepreneurial company can be stressful. That's why increasing numbers of growing companies are offeringworkers some type of respite. For example, SAP Campbell Software, a Chicago-based company with about 75 employeesthat makes workforce management software, has introduced a stress-free zone in its headquarters. In that area, employees areasked not to talk about work, according to Linda Tinoly, Campbell's manager of administration. Among the sanctionedactivities: playing with the rotating inventory of toys, such as squirt guns and Velcro darts. "It gives people a place to go todecompress," says Tinoly.
Such facilities can start small. When Noble-Met Ltd. was founded in 1989, the company's recreational equipment consistedof a dartboard, says John Freeland, Noble-Met's president. As the company grew, so did its recreational facilities. In 1998,Noble-Met reported more than $13 million in revenue, and its 4,000-square-foot break room included not only a dartboardbut also pool, air hockey, Foosball, and Ping-Pong.
"It gives people an opportunity to relieve stress," says Freeland. "We've never had a problem with people abusing theprivilege." In fact, Freeland says workers at the company, which manufactures metal components for medical devices,actually police their colleagues' use of the break room more than management does. Freeland attributes this vigilance to thecompany's "aggressive" profit-sharing program. Employees know that goofing off doesn't contribute to the bottom line -- or totheir own share of the company's profits.