CONCIERGE SERVICES have moved from hotels to corporate America — as an incentive for employees. PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase, N.Y., for example, has a full-time concierge to help its 800 employees with personal errands such as booking restaurant tables and theater seats, arranging events for children, and household repairs. The Chicago office of Accenture, the consulting company, uses a concierge to arrange for someone to be at an employee's home when the cable guy comes or to send someone to pick up a car from the repair shop. George Trojack, director of finance, uses the service about twice a week for everything from getting subway tokens to waiting for furniture delivery. “When things come up, they're not as stressful as they used to be because the concierge can take care of them,” he says.

Best Upon Request (www.bestuponrequest.com) is one of several nationwide companies that offer concierge services. Based in Cincinnati, the company caters to businesses from coast to coast, offering turnkey services 24 hours a day. “It's the great equalizer,” says Kirsten Lecky, vice president for business development. “It's a service that employees at any level in any department can use — and they all love it!”

Apparently so. More than 40 percent of employees use the service in those organizations that sign up with Best Upon Request. The typical client starts with a three-year contract, although most have worked with the company for more than five years. If there's enough demand, Best Upon Request will place one or more full-time representatives on-site at the company.

Concierge services have been a hit at Bronson Healthcare, a 350-bed hospital in Kalamazoo, Mich., listed as one of the 100 Best Places to Work in America by Fortune magazine. In the first year of its contract, 23 percent of employees used the service and almost 4,500 requests were fulfilled. By the third year, 42 percent of employees were using the service and almost 11,500 requests were fulfilled.

Other than being a nice thing to do for employees, does this perk have an impact? Absolutely. At Bronson, 94 percent of employees say it helps them to balance work and personal responsibilities, and 93 percent say it has helped them to reduce their stress level. In addition, 94 percent say it has increased their commitment to the hospital, which is reflected in Bronson's overall employee turnover rate, which has decreased by 54 percent since the company started using the service.




Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc., San Diego; best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees; and a frequent presenter to management groups and conferences. For more information, visit www.nelson-motivation.com.