There's no such thing as a free lunch—and there's no fooling employees with empty "perks"
Yes! Food in lieu of actual awareness/meaningful concern for workers' wellbeing is often counter-productive because workers see right through it. Thanks for calling this out in such a thoughtful way.
Any tips on where to find a printed copy of Jesse Dart's book? I'm only finding ebook versions for $40-45 and wondering if you've come across other options.
Local TV newsrooms notoriously reward employees at the end of a presidential election season with… you guessed it… “election night pizza”. I definitely would have preferred a bonus for the extra long hours in a low-paying job.
So rad to see you bringing the parts of the community building talk to life here 💓
I had a job where free lunch during our Friday meetings was one of the “benefits” (health insurance was not). I have a lot of food allergies and keep kosher, so I couldn’t participate in this free lunch - though I often took orders and picked up the food, and always attended the meetings. I asked if I could get a stipend for the lunch I brought from home, since this free lunch was positioned as a compensation perk and I couldn’t take advantage of it. Obviously, I was told no. I think when companies offer free food as a perk - beyond it being manipulative - they can forget that there are inclusion and equity issues at play.
We got a root beer float party. At 9 in the morning. It was awful.
Oof. This one resonated hard! I've had so many jobs that overworked us and paid us in "rewards" for doing our jobs. It's bizarre to think that pizza or other perks are given to workers for just doing their jobs like dangling a carrot in front of you and saying if you work harder or "dedicate" yourself more the perks will get better. I hope workplace pizza culture falls off soon or more people wake up from the BS of mediocre pizza at work.
I just did the 'pizza party' manuver. My primary workplace is bringing everyone back into the office in May, and I had a call yesterday with the small group I manage where I said "Well, at least I can buy us lunch for our weekly meeting with us all back in the office". One employee totaled it up - child care for his 3 kids, if he had to be in the office all week, was $804 per week. I can't buy a nice enough lunch to make up for that.
It really is a poor attempt to make up for pushing people back into an office to make executives feel better. I don't have any better tools. (Other than telling that employee to stay home and I'll cover for him... but I can't do that for the other 5 at the same time)
This, and in my experience at a particular job; "jean days." I've always felt it was a way to avoid all of the things you mentioned, and is so juvenile. "If you guys behave well you can wear jeans on Friday."
Anyhow, congrats on being selected for the food writer's program! And as far as community goes, a live chat would be kind of fun. I haven't tried shared threads on my newsletter, so I'm not sure how they work or what the "feel" of them are.
How about doing a live thread, Ashley?
Regarding free lunch: I have lots of examples (unfortunately!) but one that stands out is getting a memo asking if I’d like a free ham or turkey for Christmas. We (the largely disgruntled staff) each lugged home our choice of holiday cheer. We’d been lobbying for cash bonuses. Happy Holidays! 😂 (the ham was delicious, though, so there’s that…;)