LANDS' END, the Wisconsin-based clothing and merchandise catalog and Internet re- tailer, keeps employees excited throughout the year with activities and celebrations, all designed around a theme. Last year's was Going for the Gold; here's some of the fun they had:


In September, 2,776 employees and their families, retirees, community members, and local students joined Lands' End for the World's Largest Pillow Fight. Afterward, the company donated pillows and pillowcases embroidered with “Sweet Dreams from Lands' End,” worth almost $100,000, to the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, a network of camps for children with life-threatening illnesses. Coverage of the event included a spot on NBC's “Early Today” show, as well as MSNBC. “Maintaining Lands' End as a great place to work is important,” said CEO Mindy Meads. “Hosting an event like this was an excellent way for us to have some fun, make history, and support a good cause.”


The Lands' End Summer Olympics, July 13 to August 21, 2004, featured such events as marshmallow golf, a beach ball throw, a plank walk, a free throw contest, and a gurney push. All finalists were honored at opening and closing ceremonies at the company picnic, which also featured rides, bingo, the Lands' End Alumni Band, and a performance by entertainer Neal McCoy.


What would the Olympics be without a torch? “Torches” were sent to various company departments, and the division that most creatively displayed its torch received extra credit toward the Lands' End Olympics. Each department had to find a unique location, display the torch, capture the moment, and submit a photo. Torches ended up in Rome, Japan, the Lands' End swimming pool, on the roof, on a tractor, and many other creative locations.


This award (meant to thank people for using their beans!) recognizes employees for all types of efforts, from assisting with a last-minute task to staying late to help with a project. Each month, at the employee services divisional meeting, people nominate someone for the Big Bean Award. At the end of the meeting, one name is drawn and that person gets the opportunity to win prizes such as a Lands' End beanbag chair as well as prank prizes, such as pork and beans or a beanie hat. Each nominee is sent a copy of his or her nomination, and all nominations are displayed for one month on the employee Web site.

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