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An Unusual Incentive: Company Offers Beer for Timesheets

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 29, 2014 11:30 AM

Does this sound like a weird incentive to you?

A company has an issue with people not turning in their timesheets on time. Its response? Build a custom "kegerator" that dispenses beer when an employee, whose timesheet has been submitted, swipes his or her keycard.

Out here, in Silicon Valley, free keg beer at work isn't that usual -- startups offer all sorts of weird incentives to keep employees glued to their desks. Alas, here at FindLaw, we only have coffee. But should we (or you) offer such an incentive?

Colle + McCoy + Kegerator = Motivated Ad Men!

Colle + McCoy, a Minneapolis advertising agency, had that late timeslip issue. The firm's response was to build a custom kegerator (the "TapServer") that uses "several Arduinos, a Node-based server, solenoids and a Raspberry Pi." (Geeks will get that one.) It's basically a homemade card scanner that checks to see if the timeslip has been submitted. If so, employees can pull a pint, reports AdWeek.

Did it work? Oh yeah. Timesheet completion is up 90 percent.

People drinking in an ad agency -- that's a novel idea.

Is There Any Way This Is a Bad Idea?

No. Heck no. In fact, I'm going to talk to my immediate supervisor about this tonight at Happy Hour. And about those timeslips ... it's a total coincidence that they'll be, ya know, slippin' to a later hour until the beer shows up.

In all seriousness though, a lot of businesses freak out when alcohol is involved. And it's for good reason: injuries, social host liability, sexual harassment, general stupidity -- whatever. We'd venture a guess that the automated Colle + McCoy dispenser only puts out once per timesheet. Giving someone a single beer as an incentive is one thing -- throwing a full-on kegger or getting "Mad Men"-smashed is a whole different (and legally dangerous) matter.

And not every fun incentive has to be alcohol-related -- you might incentivize success through other rewards, such as free lunches or gift cards.

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