Apparently, Joop always carries his blue cheese knife with him on every cycling holiday. He got it years ago in his end of year packet at work. His company's colour was blue. He loved his knife and he was proud he always had it with him on holiday. This was the first year we cycled through France with Joop and co. The other cyclists remembered the blue cheese knife from previous cycling holidays. I remember the knife made me feel glad that I did business with his company.
The Karlsruher Institute of Technology published a working paper in April 2011 describing an experiment by Sebastian Kube, Micheal Andre Marechal and Clemens Puppe in monetary versus non-monetary rewards for employees.
The employees in this experiment were divided into two groups. Each had the same measurable job: to catalogue library books. One group was given a monetary reward, the other was given a thermos can that had an equivalent value. Great care was taken, over time, to measure the response. The test results show that the workers who wanted to get a thermos at the end of the day instead of the money it was worth, filled in 1.23 more cards than their monetary counterparts. Some of the employees knew the value of the thermos, others didn't. Yet all of the people getting a thermos at the end of the day had greater productivity.
When employees were offered a choice between cash and the thermos, 80% chose cash. The researchers found that not everyone wanted a thermos, and that those that wanted a thermos ended up being more productive. Only when people really wanted a thermos, did they work for it. It doesn't work to simply throw a gift at people. If it is relevant for their lives, if it makes sense to have it, then it will affect productivity.
I wonder how many of Joop's co-workers were happy with their blue cheese knife, whether the company measured satisfaction, and whether the people who would have preferred a monetary equivalent of the cheese knife spent as much time on their holidays expressing satisfaction with their employer as Joop did.