Long-term care providers have been faced with staggering staffing challenges since the onset of the pandemic in the United States in early 2020, but history demonstrates that this isn’t the first time employers have turned to creative solutions to counter recruitment and retention challenges.

Around the turn of the last century, large employers such as Goodyear, National Cash Register, Kellogg’s and Union Pacific turned to what was dubbed at the time “employee welfare work” — corporate incentives meant to boost employee morale and create an environment in which they would want to work.

“The plan evolved into a massive program to put sunlight in factories, feed hot lunches to workers, and create programs to build greater work spirit through spectatorship at company baseball games,” the Washington Post reported. “Other companies jumped on the bandwagon to use welfare work to reduce turnover, fight unions and increase profits.”  

Akron, OH-based tire magnages F.A. Seiberling of Goodyear, and Harvey Firestone of Firestone Tire and Rubber Co., started employee baseball teams, and the companies would face each other on the ballfield. According to the media outlet, the companies also competed against the likes of the Kellogg’s Corn Flakers and Flint Buicks in a league they organized that spanned at least two other states.

“The brick stadium where the Firestone Non-Skids played (named for the company’s first treaded tires, ‘non-skids’”) seated 4,500 cheering workers, and it still stands in front of the old company headquarters,” the Post reported. “The idea was that when employees sat in the stands and cheered for the company, they’d be more loyal, and as a result, they were encouraged to do so.” 

At the end of the day, the author said, organizations must look to what resonates with their workers to boost morale and make the workplace a setting where employees feel appreciated and like part of a team.