Employee Engagement: Have you thought about ice cream?
Great employee engagement is built many ways, but the best include smaller initiatives that help form the rock-solid foundation trust that is so critical to achieving full engagement.
I get a little reminder of that every month from a local ice cream vendor called Arctic Express. I don’t do business with them, and cannot recommend their service either way. Somehow I got on their e-mail list, though, and get entertaining e-mails which constantly remind me that engagement doesn’t grow solely on grand initiatives like 360° Peer Reviews or leadership seminars. It grows from constant attention to work environment details that give regular confirmation that senior management does care.
Little gestures count. If you provide a meaningful break to hard-working employees by making ice cream (or baby carrots for that matter) available to them, they notice. If you stick with it, they notice and appreciate it. If you build on a steady series of such signs of appreciation, they will start to believe you are serious about building trust and start to engage more energetically.
Consider the humble ice cream freezer sitting in the break room full of cheap but quality ice cream. Energized employees can act on their own desire to bond by throwing spontaneous ice cream socials. Think back to the AT&T Super Bowl ad that featured a group of employees throwing an impromptu Taco Party. If you can facilitate that kind of bonding exercise, you can add strength to the environment of full engagement you are trying to build.
Ice cream in particular is one of the world’s great guilty pleasures, and you can make it affordable and available 24/7. If you worry about encouraging bad dietary habits, play that up too. Put a sign up right over the freezer with a tongue-in-cheek message like:
“Easy there, Captain! How many of these have you had this week? Remember your New Year’s resolution! Always eat responsibly!”
Small gestures add up, as long as they happen consistently, and it is clear the ‘gesturers’ really mean it.