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Feb 4, 2016

There are 53 players on the standard NFL team’s roster, but the bosses of the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos know it takes more people than that to win a Super Bowl.

At every NFL head office, there are hundreds of administrative personnel, facilities crews, interns, and assistants who ensure the players and coaches have all the equipment, accommodations, and facilities they need at home and on the road to win games.

That’s why both Carolina and Denver are treating their respective staffs to the ultimate employee perk this year: An all-expenses paid trip to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.

The Panthers and Broncos did the same thing for their employees the last time their teams reached the Super Bowl in 2004 and 2014, respectively.

In a statement to the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers organization explained that Carolina Panthers owner/founder Jerry Richardson “understands that this memorable season would not have been possible without harmony and a complete team effort,” referring to Carolina’s impressive 15 wins during the regular season.

The power of perks

A trip to the Super Bowl is a great perk if you can get it, and it also highlights the power of employee perks and awards over monetary compensation.

Sometimes the right perks or benefit can be just as effective, if not more effective as a raise or other cash incentives.

Companies like Zappos lead the way on this philosophy by keeping salaries competitive and balancing them out with hearty benefits and a plethora of random perks, including free food and drinks, on-the-job training sessions, employee-organized classes, and the occasional cash retention bonus. As a result, Zappos doesn’t have to pay the most to get best.

A primo motivational tool

Salaries in the NFL skew higher than the average industry, but again, the regular folks who keep things moving behind the scenes at every team’s head office who don’t have agents negotiating their contracts must consider pay against benefits when looking for a new job like anyone else.

That said, a primo bonus like a free trip to the Super Bowl is not only an ingenuous motivational tool, but it is an excellent initiative that ties the purpose of the work closely to the purpose of the reward – the better everyone does their job, from the interns in the office to the team assistants on the field, the better support and tools the players and coaches have to win games, and the better the organization performs overall.

The same principle can be applied to any organization in any industry, and the effect of non-monetary rewards lasts much longer than cash rewards.

Thanks for the memories

Why is that so? Just think of what anyone would get out of a trip to the Super Bowl — memories! It’s an experience to relate to others.

An employee would probably still be telling his/her children about that trip to the Super Bowl in 20 years, but nobody is wistfully and romantically recalling that variable pay they got that one time, trust us.

Money treats but it doesn’t cure. It feels good in the way those massage chairs in the airport do – only for a few brief moments before you realize you still have a flight to catch.

Focus on giving your employees memorable experiences, and you will captivate them, enthrall them, and give them reason for working for you beyond mere money.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.