Jo Geraghty


Project M&M

Date added: 05th Sep 2013
Category: Employee Engagement

When it comes to employee engagement and happiness the ‘tech giants are often held up as trailblazers; diving happily as they do into unusual office designs which incorporate recreation spaces and other perks.  But what happens when employee happiness goes too far and start to conflict with employee health.

That was the dilemma facing Google when it realised that its free M&Ms policy was potentially endangering employee health.  Being a tech firm, Google did what it does best and called in the behavioural scientists to undertake a survey of snacking habits and correlate these with current food psychology thinking.  The solution was simple and effective.  The M&Ms are now on display in opaque containers whilst dried fruit and nuts are displayed in clear containers.  This has led to a reduction in M&M snacking with employees at the New York office consuming 3.1million fewer M&M calories in a seven week period.

Speaking about the experiment to The Washington Post, Google’s senior vice president of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, said “Data can be a way at getting to the truth. When people talk about data, it becomes an abstract of machines, robots and terabytes of information. But really, it’s just facts; numbers that describe a reality.” Laszlo Bock went on to say that  “Of course, the use of data doesn’t negate a manager’s instinct or common sense” adding “but too often leaders at other firms rely on what feels right without considering the truths that can be laid bare in the collection of data.”

This comment rings true for all business owners who have come to recognise the importance of properly measuring employee engagement through surveys such as the engage model employed by Culture Consultancy.  Leaders may have a gut instinct that something is wrong but unless the problem is properly identified any “gut feeling” solution may cause more harm than good in the long run.  Sometimes the engagement solution may be simple, sometimes complex but undertaking a review before action will enhance the chances of a successful outcome.

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