image for A slice of Employee Engagement

A slice of Employee Engagement

Published on Sunday, 20th March 2016, contributed by en:Rich HR

Last week while catching up with the latest CIPD articles I noticed the headline ‘Free pizza just won’t cut it’. Attracted by an enticing headline (or perhaps the idea of free pizza) I read all of Jill Miller’s excellent article - you can read it here.

In a piece centered around employee wellbeing, Jill made the point that offering a free dinner can be a default option to try to compensate for a culture of long working hours. As her title suggests, in organisations where long working hours are the norm, this is a very poor tactic - it doesn’t create a healthy workplace and it’s clearly no compensation. But I know organisations where the arrival of the pizza boxes at 9pm is anything but bad - just as long as it’s done with the right intentions in mind.

In my work as an Employee Engagement specialist and HR Consultant, I work with a number of creative businesses. It’s a sector not always known for 9-5 working hours and one where, often out of necessity, the midnight oil is burned. It’s not ideal but it’s in the nature of competitive businesses, motivated by delivering creative excellence, delighting clients and winning pitches.

In instances where the team are ‘doing a late one’ free pizza can be a gesture of appreciation, and a chance for those working late to share a few moments together. Everyone is there, ideas are buzzing along with the adrenalin and, although it’s a token - it’s also a real ‘slice’ of employee engagement. And why is that?

In my earlier article What makes a great workplace culture, and how do you measure yours?  I talk about the importance of camaraderie, fun and a feeling of community amongst colleagues being central to what makes a great place to work. In the creative world - in fact any place where the team pulls together, it’s often the small things that make an engaging difference - that is as long as there’s authentic leadership, a culture of employee respect and these occasions are exceptions rather than the norm.

So, the underlying message here is that while free pizza has it’s place - there’s a lot more to achieving real employee engagement. The freebies can be motivational in the right circumstances - but they will have an unpleasant taste if they are window dressing to deeper problems such as a entrenched long hours culture or bullying.

Last year, Deloitte research found that 87% of organisations identified culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, and 50% call the problem “very important.” That sounds like something needing a bit more than a slice of free pizza to put right.

If you’d like to discuss employee engagement or HR issues in your business please get in touch. I can help you look into your business and get a valuable view of your current levels of engagement and motivation. You’ll also identify the steps the business could be taking to keep staff motivated and build greater team spirit.

en:Rich helps organisations succeed by creating engaged, motivated and highly productive people, teams and managers.

Please feel free to contact me for a chat.