Today I watched this 20X20 PechaKucha presentation by Josh Golden, CEO and founder of Table XI in Chicago. He’s got some really interesting ideas of what has worked for their company in terms of developing and providing for staff, and building their organization and their culture.I support what Josh says about crafting organizational culture. Culture can’t be created superficially, and must be integrated into every move that is made within an organization. Perks (short-term, immediate, and tangible rewards to employees) however are an opportunity to solve immediate business problems. Perks are a value-add, and a way to recognize and instill desired behaviour. From an organizational change management perspective, perks can be the tip of the iceberg, the tangible evidence an organization can provide to show that it’s walking it’s talk to employees. However, providing perks should be used as a supplement to organizational change management and cultural transformation. On their own, perks are not drivers of cultural transformation or organizational change.Josh gives the example of Table XI’s time sheet program which provides the potential of employees to make an additional $1,200 per year through a $5 daily bonus. The program also motivates employees to fulfill a dreaded task each day that is necessary for timely billing at this creative agency- getting timesheets completed and submitted each day. And, it contains elements of play, low-risk competition and immediate pay-off which undoubtedly contribute to the success of the program.Planning and holding effective creative retreats is a topic worthy of must thought and discussion. I like that Table XI realizes that short breaks throughout the business day can provide similar benefits to more involved offsite gatherings. I often take short “brain breaks” when working on thinking, writing, and screen-heavy work in order to keep fresh and productive. The way Table XI has recognized the benefits of short “field trips” formalizes this logical need for employees to manage the pace of their work. Furthermore, it reminds me of an article I read recently in Harvard Business Review about “energy management” versus “time management”. (More on this later, as it’s a topic close to my heart.)

MY TAKEAWAYS
  • Use “perks” (highly visible, immediate and tangible rewards) to reinforce behavioural changes for task based activities.
  • Create healthy competition and visible recognition within the organization to reinforce behaviour changes
  • Look for simple, short duration activities such as “field trips” (which could be perceived as perks), to gain similar benefits to culture and energy building events like off-site retreats.
  • Use “perks” as a part of building organizational culture and reinforcing changes within the working environment.
  • Perks can encourage desired behaviour and support the change process relative to the following Burke-Litwin Change Model dimensions: organizational culture, leadership, management practices, motivation level, tasks and skills, and individual and overall performance.