With unemployment nearing 20 percent in some states, those still in the workforce not only fear for their jobs, many are working twice as hard to compensate for laid-off staff and getting paid less to do it. It’s no wonder company morale during this recession is at an all time low. Capital deprived business owners forced to downsize their workforce and slash the wages and salaries of their remaining employees are rewarding their staff, not with bonuses, but with food.
“William A. Berry & Son Inc. had layoffs in January,” writes Boston Globe’s Katie K. Johnston, “but that didn’t stop the Danvers construction company from holding a cookout in the parking lot for employees. There were hamburgers and hot dogs – and plenty of camaraderie. “Feed ’em and they’ll come,” said payroll manager Judy Manuel. “The ones we keep, we want to take care of.”
“Business aren’t handing out free food just to be nice, of course,” said Bill Driscoll, New England district president for staffing firm Robert Half International. “People that remain after cutbacks are critical to the survival of the company.”
Food “appeals to our need for relatedness,” said Paul Baard, a communications professor at Fordham University who researches workplace motivation. “You kind of break through that barrier when you sit down and break bread together.”
A culinary historian who lives in Concord, writes Johnston, said feeding employees may make them feel better for a moment, but it doesn’t relieve the anxiety. “It’s an aspirin for a migraine,” she said.