Wii at work
A software company uses video games to relieve stress.
(Fortune Small Business) -- When David Gray joined Daxko as CEO in 2003, the small software vendor's product line was unfocused and unprofitable.
The former Fortune 500 executive recommended that Daxko concentrate on its most successful product: an operating and accounting system for nonprofit organizations, which at the time were an untapped market. He also wanted a more collegial workplace. "I'm a big believer in corporate culture as a competitive advantage," says Gray, 39.
It worked. Within a year Daxko was profitable. Today the Birmingham company boasts annual revenues of around $10 million. Its casual but driven environment now resembles Silicon Valley more than the Deep South. No one -- including management -- has a private office, and all are encouraged to utilize the company's alternative spaces, including a work/play lounge complete with a Nintendo Wii and a 52-inch plasma TV. All new employees get 15 paid vacation days, a free YMCA membership and six weeks' paid parental leave.
Employee happiness is paramount: Every year workers receive $1,500 each to spend on any kind of professional enrichment that strikes their fancy. They're also entitled to a four-week sabbatical after every seven years of service. Such perks can keep employees grounded, according to Marina Martin, a Seattle-based corporate efficiency consultant.
"It's symbolic of a company that focuses on contributions instead of hours clocked," she says. "Without that culture a Wii and TV are a net loss."
For product manager Saranda West, 26, the best reason to work at Daxko is the weekly free lunch, when employees get to socialize on company time.
"It's pretty intense here," she says. "Expectations for what I need to accomplish are clearly set. And if I can play the Wii while doing it, that's even better."
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