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Microsoft Has Its Towel Again

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-19

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A perk that was cruelly ripped away from employees of Microsoft has been returned as the software giant revamps its compensation plans.

The compensation and review procedures used by Microsoft over the past couple of years have spawned resentment ("who helped build that $40 billion cash pile anyway"), defections (Kai-Fu Lee, Mark Lucovsky, etc), and a blogger (Mini-Microsoft) who wants the fat trimmed from the company with the sharpest knife possible.

That atmosphere has begun to change, as Microsoft brought its staff into a townhall meeting, where senior VP, human resources Lisa Brummel disclosed a number of changes that make Microsoft's tech evangelist Robert Scoble think she and others in the executive ranks have been reading Mini-Msft:

Is Lisa reading Mini? Damn straight she is.

This is the "Mini-smackdown" I wanted to see. Hopefully these changes will get us on a more customer-centric path.

Can one person change a huge company? Mini did. And we don't even know his name.

But, don't miss the work that Steve Ballmer, the leadership team, and Lisa Brummel did here either. Wonderful. Cheers. Now, let's get back to work figuring out how to make our customers lives better.

Scoble also wrote that the changes announced are not small tweaks, but "wholesale changes to how Microsoft treats its employees." One of the changes brings back the towels, and the laundry bills, to Microsoft; they provide towels in the locker rooms to employees who bike ride or workout during the work day.

Seattle P-I reporter Todd Bishop blogged about the changes, which include an initiative called myMicrosoft. Part of that initiative includes a swath of employee perks that Bishop noted would seem "a bit over-the-top and extravagant" outside the tech world; he listed part of Brummel's memo in his post:

"We're planning to provide on-campus access to a variety of services, including laundry and dry cleaning, grocery delivery from Safeway and opening convenience stores -- all of which are designed to ease the burden given the hectic pace of life. We will expand and upgrade dining services adding great new retail food in select cafes, dinners to go from Wolfgang Puck and other services. We are also arranging discounts on a variety of home services including house keeping, yard care, pet care, auto services and more."

Most importantly to the people behind Vista, Office, SQL Server, etc, will be the compensation and stock awards Microsoft offers. The effort seems focused on rewarding those who deliver strong performance and appear to be ready to make significant future contributions to the company as well.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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