Picture the scenario; The Engineering Director leaves, and HR thinks (they don't actually know) that the team is feeling blue about it. What do they do? They order pizza and cramp 16 people into the HR office, where they sit on top of each other. Why? To make them feel supported until the new Director arrives.
I sat there looking at the guys feeling super uncomfortable, thinking to myself, "I refuse to die until I figure out why HR is obsessed with feeding people."
Whenever I see an HR initiative or hear them talk, it is always about "We got them food." I don't understand their obsession with giving food as a motivator or as this being their engagement strategy.
I am not joking, I have seen engagement strategies where everything was about celebration and food. We don't need food, we need modern workplace practices.
So I started to look into what HR thinks we need to be motivated and engaged. Here is what SHRM writes:
"The food is not only a morale booster, a convenience and a stress reliever on busy days but also a recruiting and retention tool, Meinzer said."
I don't know about you, but I never joined a company or stayed because food was provided.
The article then discusses how much people save annually by receiving snacks and lunch. So should we maybe give them the money instead?
As I read further articles and practices, I noticed that food is now incorporated into everything from attraction to retention to training to wellness and is being used as a bribe.
“When I have my wellness seminar, the HR department provides yoghurt, fruit, nuts, and I bring in a juicer,” she said in the online discussion. “This is the only way I can be sure to have a group of employees participate.”
In fact, one-third of nearly 1,100 full-time professionals working for companies with 20 or more employees said it takes food to get them to show up to optional meetings, according to a nationwide poll by Seamless, a mobile and online service for ordering delivery and takeout from restaurants in the U.S. and the United Kingdom."
There is so much wrong with this practice because you might lure people into training or meeting with food, but do they effectively participate? I don't want people to attend my session for the food only.
Whilst employees take the food that is given, they also see through this lack of effort from HR and the management. “Occasionally, upper-level management would come around with a cart full of candy. Departments would provide pizza as a way of saying ‘Thank you.’ I’m not really sure what it accomplished except to help us pick up a few extra pounds. It might have been better if those same upper-level managers would go around and just talk to people—say ‘Thank you’ directly. Have a short conversation about what was going on.”
So the question is, what kind of environment have we created at organisations where food is used as a bribe? But the bribe has no effective outcome because people don't join or stay for food, they don't productively engage in meetings and training when the only reason they showed up is the food.
HR think this through because we can do better than this. Employees notice the lack of effort to fundamentally change employee experiences, and they are just taking advantage of you.
If you want to do something different than feeding your people for no reason, let us know, and we will help you design workplace practices that yield results.