These days, it seems every workplace is continually adding various perks such as robust wellness programs, remote work options, and many other perks to sweeten the pot. And even warehouses are adding fancy tech-like amenities to their package in efforts to attract and retain employees.
While the majority of companies are simply doing what everyone else is doing, this one Japanese company is running in the opposite direction. In fact, they're embracing "anti-perks."
Reported in Bloomberg, Disco Corp, a chip-equipment maker, is embracing a radical management strategy. Founded back in 1937 as Dai-Ichi Seitosho Co., they began by supplying cutting tools to the Japanese military prior to World War II.
At this company, using meeting rooms cost employees $100 dollars. Using office desks, PC's, and even a spot for your wet umbrella will cost you. Individuals operate as one-person startups with teams billing each other for their work. There are daily auctions for work assignments and the battles for the best ideas in the aptly named "Colosseum." Payments are settled in a virtual currency called "Will," with balances paid in yen at the end of each quarter.
Results are showing positive signs
Included in the Bloomberg piece was Toshio Naito, the designer of the program who started it in 2011 and has continually refined it over the years. When discussing the reasoning for the program, he stated in the Bloomberg piece: "We've created a free economic zone, just like what exists outside the company. Work should be about freedom, not orders."
Disco's radical management strategy since implementation, has seen its operating margin rose from 16 percent to 26 percent. Disco's share price has almost quadrupled in that period, to roughly 16,000 yen ($148), which has given the company a $5 billion market value. Workers are paid more than double the national average of 4.7 million yen.
Underneath these positive results are a bevy of lessons. But this one lesson sticks out the most.
Competition makes the work experience and people better
At the heart of Disco's program is a compensation system that meticulously tracks how much every person and team contributes to earnings. There's even a penalty system for inefficient behaviors such as working late and accumulating unnecessary inventory. It's no coincidence that overtime hours have fallen since this system started in 2015.
Inside the 200-seat auditorium at headquarters, employees face off in daily competitions. Just like in video games and in sports, having the highest score and winning elicits positive emotions.
Embracing competition and measuring everything makes the workday like a game and increases interest and engagement among employees.
Lastly, adding competition increases the overall work experience because each employee now has a stronger incentive and reasoning for giving it their all. One of the carrots dangling in front of employees is quarterly bonuses that can rival a year's pay for their top performers.
While money can be a great way to elicit greater productivity, there are other ways. With wellness, for example, creating a wellness "wall of fame" for employees who accomplish a great feat or wins a company challenge can conjure up the competitive bug in people leading to more engagement.
Simply acknowledging people for their work and efforts can improve your employee engagement and loyalty.
Employees who agree to work at a company like Disco will most likely understand the pressure-filled environment. Therefore, turnover should theoretically be lower and company culture should be improved since it's a greater probability that the employees there are similar in psychological makeup.
While you don't have to charge for office chairs at your company, it's a good idea to get ultra-specific about who you are and what you represent so you can attract the perfect employees for your company.