I work in an office (in the UK) of about 200 people, with a wide mix of incomes, backgrounds and jobs. Last November a special project was set up that required about 20 of us to work lots of extra hours (for which we were paid). We ranged from senior analysts (like me) to quite junior support staff on relatively low salaries.
When the project was about 3 weeks in we were all given a letter telling us to go out for a meal with a friend or partner, and to claim the cost of this meal for two back as a special bonus. The maximum we could spend was £150. To put that in context, it is perfectly possible to eat fairly well in my city for £30 for two, drinks included, and very well for £60 for two.
Thus began The Birth of the Foodies.
Suddenly, the main topic of conversation (apart from the special project work of course) was the latest news concerning the menus of the best restaurants in town. People who had never considered factors beyond the size of portions or the availability of a ‘2 for 1’ pizza offer were now looking at Michelin starred restaurants and oggling on-line gastroporn. Today I pointed a colleague at the WD-50 website (which is in a different continent) because of his new found fascination with food – he’d never before known what was out there, because he’d never had cause to look.
I’m wondering if this was a clever bit of social engineering on the part of the very senior manager whose idea this was – or whether the manager eats out at these kinds of places all the time and assumed everyone else did too. Either way, he has created a bit of a monster – a group of people who don’t normally work together stopping each other in corridors to talk of The Meal. Because of a major flu outbreak in December many of us have yet to have The Meal – and at least two people who HAVE had it are going for it again – just to get a bit closer to the £150 limit they say, but really it is because they are hooked.
So – all you senior managers out there, next time you want to bond a group together - try bribing them with foodiness - you may be doing your local restaurant scene (and so yourself) a huge favour.