In any growing business, the day comes when the founder no longer knows everybody in the company. That's a loss for him, and a danger for the company, since it usually signifies a weakening of the bonds that have helped the business grow in the first place.
At Koss Corp., in Milwaukee, chairman John Koss mitigates the problem by going to see each employee on his or her birthday and delivering a greeting card containing a gift certificate to the company store. The gift certificate is worth $5 for each year of tenure, amounting to as much as $100 for a longtime employee. In addition, employees get a 50% discount at the company store. Aside from ensuring direct contact between Koss and his 175 employees, the program makes it possible for hourly workers to buy Koss's products, which they otherwise might not be able to afford. (Koss's top-of-the-line stereo headphones sell for up to $175.)
"The response has been tremendous," says personnel director Michael Moore, who dreamed up the program. Not only has morale improved, but the company store -- previously little used by employees -- now does a booming business.