For most employees in this depressed economy, Christmas bonuses are only a distant memory — if they’re remembered at all. At the newspaper where I worked before retiring in 2008, Christmas bonuses were phased out even before the recession, in a climate of industry consolidation, budget cuts, buyouts and layoffs.
But at least one company had a good year in 2010, and all 12,400 of its U.S. employees received a Christmas gift: a silver-colored, unisex, all-terrain bicycle (some assembly required).
The company is IKEA of Älmhult, Sweden, a global retailer of ready-to-assemble furniture and household goods with 37 stores in the United States. The bikes were presented simultaneously at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, just before the stores opened at 10 a.m.
“This is our way of saying ‘thanks IKEA co-workers for being strongly committed to working together.’ We hope this bike will be taken in the spirit of the season while supporting a healthy lifestyle and everyday sustainable transport.”
Sort of a healthcare plan on two wheels.
IKEA didn’t disclose the brand of the bike or the cost, but they were made specifically for IKEA employees — presumably at a bulk discount — to thank them for “great results and great team work,” company spokeswoman Mona Liss said in an e-mail. “It has been a good year for IKEA U.S. (and IKEA Global as well).”
The bikes have a white, yellow and blue stripe, colors in the IKEA logo, but not the logo itself.
“We don’t want people to think we manufacture bicycles,” Liss said.
By the way, in case you’ve ever wondered, the letters IKEA are an acronym made up of the initials of Ingvar Kamprad, who founded the company in Sweden in 1943, the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd), and his home parish (Agunnaryd, in Småland, South Sweden), according to Wikipedia.