From the June 2005 issue of Entrepreneur

As health-care costs have risen, 401(k) employer contributions have fallen and other perks have become more expensive, entrepreneurs have searched for inexpensive ways to boost staff morale. Now, some companies have found a way--in the kitchen. Polly Talbott, 54, owner and director of A la Carte Culinary Services Ltd. in Long Island, New York, says the number of companies coming to her for employee cooking classes has risen sharply in the past five years. "People are realizing the corporate benefits of classes," Talbott says.

Talbott's experience isn't unique. The famed Institute of Culinary Education in New York City has reported a 30 percent increase in corporate bookings over the past two years, and several other culinary institutes are developing corporate programs.

The cooking classes can also be a way of building team morale. "The groups have to work together to plan the menu, like a [corporate] project, but it takes them out of the workplace," says Talbott. "Someone who's the boss at work now has to ask people for help; everyone has to work together. And if the food they make turns out badly, they can always stop at a diner on the way home."


In 2004, workers forfeited

415 billion

vacation days they couldn't find time to use.
Statistic Source: Expedia.com
By the end of 2005,

80%

of businesses worldwide expect to have employees who work remotely.
Statistic Source: Economist Intelligence Unit

Joshua Kurlantzick is a writer in Washington, DC.