Not so long ago, workers were happy if their employers were generous enough to recognize hard work - and the need for help in balancing their personal lives - with discounts on merchandise, a weekend getaway, gift certificates and other personal services.
Recognition and support in this traditional way still are highly valued by employees, but recently, awards have become more individualized.
"The field of [employee] rewards and concierge services is changing to reflect the desire of workers to experience life and not just to buy or to get things," said Janet Kraus, chief executive officer of Circles, a marketing company based in Boston.
The trend is nationwide: A Maritz Poll survey of 1,002 U.S. workers indicates that 73 percent of respondents prefer to choose from a variety of awards rather than receive "preselected" items.
Employee recognition and services have come a long way from getting the day off or a gold watch. Today, the customary dinner for two might be prepared by a private chef in your own home; tickets to a sporting event could include dinner, being chauffeured to the game, box seats and meeting a player. Other rewards include balloon rides, hang gliding and trapeze lessons.
The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.