Pizza is on my mind this week. Truthfully, it is on my mind every week. Just ask my wife. I love pizza. But this week my thoughts of pizza are more intense than usual, probably because I’m heading to Chicago on Sunday for the annual SHSMD Connections Conference. And Chicago is home to some amazing deep dish pizza. By hook or by crook, I will find a way to make it over to Giordano’s one evening to indulge in their famous stuffed pizza. After much trial and error, Giordano’s has become one of my favorite spots for Chicago pizza (by the way, there’s plenty of bad Chicago pizza). I tend to keep the toppings simple, opting for veggies, usually jalapeno peppers and onions.
But there’s more to my fixation on pizza than my impending trip to Chicago. You’re probably well aware that Monday was National Cheese Pizza Day. My wife and I celebrated over a brick oven pizza margherita. But there’s more. What really got me fixated on pizza was an article in NY Magazine last week citing a recent study that found that pizza is a top motivator for employees.
Within this study, the promise of pizza and a compliment from the boss were both found to be top motivators, proving to be significantly better motivators than the offer of a small cash bonus.
“After the first day, pizza proved to be the top motivator, increasing productivity by 6.7 percent over the control group, thereby just barely edging out the promise of a compliment (in the form of a text message from the boss that said “Well done!”). Those in the compliment condition increased their productivity by 6.6 percent as compared to the control group. But the worst motivator, much to the company’s surprise, was the cash bonus, which increased productivity by just 4.9 percent as compared to the control group.” (Source: NY Magazine, August 29, 2016)
For a long time I’ve felt that the value of money as a motivator is fleeting. When thinking about how best to motivate employees, I believe that the best route is to create an environment where they feel valued and appreciated. And you need to show that appreciation on a regular basis. This is absolutely the case for hospital employees.
Those healthcare organizations that have integrated employee appreciation into their culture have derived all kinds of benefits: greater employee satisfaction, lower turnover rates, lower absenteeism, and higher patient satisfaction. The culture of appreciation has to be authentic and can’t be manufactured overnight. And it isn’t all about pizza! It’s all about showing appreciation, catching people doing things right, recognizing good work, having leadership walk the halls, connecting employees to the mission and celebrating achievements. Pizza is simply an iconic way of showing appreciation. In the Carolinas, BBQ has a similar impact!
One last note. I believe that the principles of community building apply to any effort to build corporate culture. As employees and co-workers, we are drawn together by shared interests and a shared commitment to the organization’s mission. But culture takes time and the opportunity for storytelling and commiserating. It is not a coincidence that for thousands of years human beings have formed community and celebrated community over shared meals. At Jennings, we bring in lunch twice a month for our team, giving employees an opportunity to share a meal, tell stories and bond over common experiences. For a hard driving team, where people are constantly going in different directions, this brief respite and demonstration of appreciation is just what the doctor ordered. And it is my belief that the pizza lunches have the largest impact!