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Boost camaraderie with a free lunch

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

In 2013, the leaders of Pictometry Inter­­national decided to get more bang for their buck to boost morale among their 250 employees. So they focused on food.

Pictometry, an aerial imaging company in Rochester, N.Y., allocated $2,500 a week to provide food for its workforce. Staffers could enjoy a range of snacks and meals, from popcorn to sandwiches, throughout the day.

But Pictometry went beyond providing free food. The leaders also solicited input from employees on how they should spend the money.

A technician suggested that he could use some of the funds to bake pies and bring them in. Another employee thought the company should buy a slow cooker and, if it did, he would bring ingredients to make a stew.

Today, colleagues often share communal lunches that they’ve cooked for their peers. It brings people together, creates shared experiences and builds teams.

This form of team-building isn’t cheap. The total annual cost is $130,000.

But for that investment, the firm’s leaders enhance the organizational culture and create a unique perk that employees love.

If Pictometry were to get rid of the meal stipend and earmark the same amount of money for its 250 employees, each of them would get a raise of about 25 cents an hour. Such a minor pay increase would probably not produce the same result in strengthening group bonds.

— Adapted from The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman, Perigee.

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