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THE INC. LIFE

These 11 Work Friends Won Millions in the Lottery. The Choice They Made Next Surprised Everyone

I mean, it’d be one thing if one of them made this choice. But all 11?

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BY Bill Murphy Jr. - 07 Aug 2018

These 11 Work Friends Won Millions in the Lottery. The Choice They Made Next Surprised Everyone

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you won the lottery, would you keep working at your current job?

For a group of 11 work friends in California who won a $543 million lottery prize, it's not a hypothetical question.

"We want to keep our jobs," said Richard Reyes, one of the 11 winners. "We love that company. We love what we've built there. We have a good time and want to stay together."

Surprising, right? It's one thing for a lottery winner to keep working. Most winners do in fact keep working--although many change jobs, situations, or even careers. But for 11 people at a single company to win, and all of them apparently decide to keep working together? That's stunning.

Of course I wanted to know the company. What place of employment could be so amazing that 11 newly minted millionaires want to keep working there?

Unfortunately, the California Lottery isn't saying, and Reyes is the only one of the 11 who came forward. We know it's "in the financial industry." Also it has to be within driving distance of "Ernie's Liquors" in San Jose, California, which sold the winning ticket.

There's also the possibility that Reyes is putting us on, and the whole group gave notice within minutes of winning. But let's suspend our disbelief.

Even though we don't know the company, we do know some things that would have to be true about it. Just ask yourself--what would your company have to be like, for nearly a dozen sudden multimillionaire employees to want to keep working?

1. It would need a truly compelling mission.

Take away the financial incentive, and you'd have to offer something truly gripping to encourage people to come to work anyway. Your company needs a mission that sucks people in, and makes them happy and fulfilled about how they're spending their days.

2. It would need truly amazing people.

You spend as much time with your coworkers as you do with anyone in your life. But would you spend time with them if money were no object and you no longer had to work? Would they spend time with you, if they no longer had to work?

3. It would need to instill pride and a sense of accomplishment.

This is related to #1: an amazing mission. But as employees think about the mission and hopefully believe in it, they also want to feel like they are personally, actively contributing to it. A company would need to ensure that its employees have these kinds of roles.

4. It would need to demonstrate respect.

Employees want to feel that the people they work with recognize their contributions, too. Everyone wants to feel appreciated. This is actually where I'd list compensation packages--obviously employees worth almost $50 million might not really need the money, but paying them fairly or even generously sends a signal that you respect them.

5. It would need to provide for growth.

People want to learn. People want to expand their horizons. They want to take on more, and do it well. They want to grow. The kind of amazing company we're talking about here would invest in its workers, and give them every opportunity to become more than they were before.

6. It would need to make the bad parts bearable.

The goal here isn't to describe utopia. Everyone's work has pain points. Maybe your commute is rough. Maybe you don't like the office location. Maybe you have one toxic coworker who makes everything else a little tougher. The amazing company we're talking about would offer solutions, and make these pain points easier to deal with.

7. It would need to offer escapes.

By "escapes," I mean time away. Even people who work for the world's best company need vacations and other escapes. I suspect that pressure would be even greater if a large percentage of your employees were suddenly millionaires.

I'm going to add one more counterintuitive thing: the perfect company like this wouldn't be eager for the newly minted millionaires to return. I can only imagine the odd dynamic between them and the larger group of non-millionaires, for example.

And I think I'd always be concerned that having nearly a dozen employees who really don't need to work for you, means running the risk each day of losing nearly a dozen employees.

But set that aside. Even if neither you nor your employees suddenly acquires a windfall like this, why not try to create a company that fulfills these attributes, anyway? I suspect you'd wind up with loyalty among employees that money could never buy.

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