• Stephanie McDonald

    Can we please stop talking about food as a recruiting tool?

  • Richard Araujo

    @ Stephanie,

    It may seem a little ridiculous, or maybe it’s just making you hungry, but it’s actually an effective tool a lot of companies should consider. I work in New York, and in the city and in the Burroughs a ‘lunch’ of a salad and drink can run 15-20 bucks. And in these metro areas it’s not unusual for people to eat both breakfast and lunch away from home due to a commute. Meaning even if you go light on breakfast you’re still looking at five bucks there plus lunch, it’s not unusual for food to run 20-30 bucks a day. That’s $100-$150 per week, $420-$630 per month. Annually it’s a big hit, so unless you brown bag both meals, free or less expensive food offered by your employer is a huge benefit to many.

    It’s one of the costs employees have to bear, it affects their budget and health, and it’s also something employers rarely think about even in these areas where prices are ridiculously high.

  • Stephanie McDonald

    I am hungry, but focusing on food rather than almost everything else on that list is what so many startups are doing – if you aren’t paying to market, offering awesome opportunities, creating a compelling product, food won’t matter. I guess that’s my point. Focus on the other stuff, and throwing down for some free food will just be a nice add on that us recruiters won’t need to lean on to compel candidates to engage.

  • Richard Araujo

    I mostly agree, but there are some companies that can’t or won’t do most if any of those things, the food would still be a good benefit for their employees. It’s something that I think is easily added and run with minimal effort and which doesn’t have to tie into some massively developed broader strategy that requires a Corporate Development VP or some other such person to write it out and sell it.

  • http://sovren.com Robert Ruff

    I’m not sure how much of a recruiting tool food is, BUT I do think it’s often a smart perk. Back when I had retail stores, we would provide free lunches to employees who would agree to take 15 minute lunch breaks. This kept us from having to hire even more cashiers just to cover lunches, so it was a win-win.

  • Richard Araujo

    @ Robert,

    Good example. In many employer environments there is a massively antagonistic relationship between managers/owners and staff, and the attitude that comes out of this on both sides is to try and ‘screw’ the other group as much and as often as possible. Rarely do people approach the relationship as one of people who are trying to work together for mutual benefit.

    Another good example is flex time. Many companies are opposed to it to such a ridiculous extent that they won’t even allow their employees to combine their break with a half day off. That meaning, say an employee has an approved half day, and their shift is 8:30 to 5 every day. There are many employers, some of which I’ve worked for, who will not let such an employee leave at 12:30 and in effect combine their break with their off time. No, they insist that the employee take a break during the four hours they work, and then come back and leave at 1:00. I was in a position to ask a company higher-up what the point of this was once, and he was massively antagonistic and claimed he didn’t want anyone ‘gaming the system.’ I was young and stupid and asked that that meant, what ‘system’? Because either way we were getting 4 hours out of the person, and it looked like we were just making their lives a little less convenient simply because we could. That observation almost got me fired.

    However, this is a persistent and common attitude among employers. There are many opportunities where they could give a little, or even nothing, to get a lot, and they don’t take advantage of them. Food is one example that could help quite a few companies, especially those in high COL areas. In the case of the break time, the owners had an opportunity to treat people well and make their lives occasionally a bit easier that would cost them nothing and buy them some good will. Instead they decided to deliberately be pricks and make people’s lives less convenient simply because they could.

    It’s not hard to understand, when this kind of attitude is so pervasive, and when individual instances add up to policies and pervasive behaviors, why it’s ridiculously hard to implement some of the more pie-in-the-sky solutions presented in these pages, which when written down seem so simple.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Robert: I am at a company that has a break room filled with drinks and snacks, and has a breakfast brought in on Friday. I am grateful for this and the other good things I have right now from my client… A cautionary word to any company considering a perk: If you ever have the slightest doubt that you won’t be able to maintain the perk FOREVER: don’t institute the perk. It’s far more demoralizing losing something you have once you have it than not getting it at all. An example: about 15 years ago I contracted for Tandem Computers, which was just about to be acquired by Compaq, which was then acquired by HP… Anyway, Tandem was “old school” they had weekly beer busts, extensive fitness facilities for everyone, and sabbaticals for employees. Compaq came in and got rid of all these things. I particularly remember the foolishness of having a security guard sitting in front of the fitness facility while new card-key access system was installed to prevent contractors like me from continuing to use it.

    As far as “pie in the sky” solutions, we should all know by now that what much of what we read here is rarely useful to the vast majority of recruiting staff who work in the real world of under-resourced and over-worked recruiting, far from the rarefied atmospheres of rich and famous companies whose size is only exceeded by the egos of those who found and run them. These firms are veritable temples to the GAFI Principles of Greed, Arrogance, Fear, and Ignorance/Incompetence and show what any firm can accomplish with huge sums of money, marketing, and luck.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • olanmills olanmills

    As a single guy, food is absolutely a huge perk. Prior to my current job, food was my biggest single expense aside from the mortgage, but it could come close sometimes. I’m lazy so I always buy food.

    Aside from saving me lots of money, it also just seems to make the day more enjoyable, and contrary to what you might think, I often take smaller portions than what I would otherwise get when I’m buying food because I know can always get another serving if the first wasn’t enough.

    It’s nice feeling that you have everything you “need” at work. It makes you feel like there are few obstacles to actually working on what matters.

  • Stephanie McDonald

    I totally get that. Really. I just think everything else on this list is amazing, dropping food off the list would not diminish the “wow” factor for me at all. My company provides all meals, even on the weekends. Course, I’m self employed.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Olanmills, Olanmills:

    For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole cafeteria full of yummy free food, and lose his own soul?

    Keith 10:36

  • olanmills olanmills

    Also, I get that the food may not be a perk primarily for recruiting. As you said, I wouldn’t want to work at a company with an otherwise poor work environment, compensation, product/business, etc. However, I think for many people, it could be a deciding factor between places that are all desirable to work at. For example, if someone was deciding between working at Amazon, Microsoft, or Facebook, and they were genuinely excited to work at any one of them, I think the food perk could make a difference.

    However, FB, doesn’t really promote it as a perk for recruiting, I think, so much as they say it helps employees “move fast”, enjoy their work day, and perform work with more productivity and/or quality.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ OM2: Of all the people looking for work, how many of them are in situations where they need to decide on whether to work at Amazon, MS, or FB, and how many of THOSE would freebies be the deciding factor? Must be nice to be in that situation….

    Cheers,
    Keith “Recruiting in Reality” Halperin

  • http://www.tmp.com Jessica Young

    What I find so interesting about articles like these about “amazing talent management” is that Apple, Google and Facebook DO NOT NEED anything amazing – they have hoards knocking on their door. Their recruiters are not very experienced bc it is easy to recruit there. And if you are ever interviewed by them you will know that immediately. Perhs are key in the Bay Area but they do not make a program “amazing” – IMO.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Jessica: Well said. I’d like to hear about *EOCs (Employers of Choice) that have a quick, efficient, and pleasant application and hiring process for both applicant and recruiter. It’s been my experience that the more the EOC is hyped, the WORSE it is to apply for. I’d also like to hear about corporations (maybe easy, maybe hard to recruit for) that treat their *RECRUITERS really well (maybe paying well, maybe not).

    Cheers,
    Keith

    *I can’t speak as a recruiter, but I found the MS application and hiring process for contract recruiters in 2007 to be very efficient, well run, and pleasant, and I didn’t even get the position…

    **Corporate and contract. Sorry, 3PRs…