- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Employee engagement, fruit bowls and free peanuts

A headline in a newspaper on the 9th of August 2018 red ‘Deutsche Bank Cuts Again. Not Even Fruit Bowls Are Safe’.

Cost cutting reaches fruits bowls and mints faster than high cost projects. I can tell you.  The ritualistic disappearance of the biscuits in the meeting room signals the Bad Times. OMG, this is bad, no peanuts! It’s an acountant thing, I am told. Like a bad fixation.

Years ago, in a large Viral Change™  project that we undertook in the transportation industry in the US, I encountered what I have called elsewhere ‘the tyranny of the small things’. The bus franchise changed ownership and the first thing they did was to  stop free coffee and milk for the drivers.

These drivers in the school transportation system are paid by the hour and at a minimum. In the old Good Days it used to be a second job for mums (or dads) or, in some areas, for example, wives of military stationed temporarily nearby. There were also many grandmothers who somehow continued to be close to the education system.

In Bad Years, well, since the Good Days, it became the (only) job for many. Withdrawing the free coffee machines in the drivers waiting room (and the peanuts) was mean and simply stupid. Moral went down. Management was discredited even before they initiated a series of beneficial measures for all.  Nothing they did could be right. The Unions had a field day. This is the first time I found a correlation between employee engagement and the availability of free peanuts.

You don’t have to have a PhD in Behavioural Economics to call the mint-peanuts-coffee disappearance-policy a stupid one. You don’t need a full Cost Benefit Analysis to show the nonsense accounting and the disproportionate negativity that it created.

In my view, if you are for a serious cost cutting, you should increase the presence of biscuits and mints. I am not joking.

‘If you are going to be miserable, you might as well enjoy it’