Team Building in the Cafeteria
Many companies go to extraordinary lengths to build bonds among workers, often to no avail: Think of trust falls, a frequently mocked symbol of wrongheaded attempts to create intimacy among workers. New research suggests there's a better way, and it's pretty simple: Encourage teams to eat together. Cornell University's Kevin Kniffin and colleagues researched meal preparation practices among firefighters in one U.S. city and identified significant positive correlations between eating together and team performance. Cooperative behavior, for example, was about twice as high among team members that ate with one another. Companies can take advantage of these findings by investing in such things as onsite cafeterias, encouraging team leaders to organize lunches, and including meal preparation activities in offsites. This reprint includes three additional Idea Watch articles. "How to Prevent Overbilling" presents research showing that simply changing how you ask vendors to account for their work--focusing on units rather than overall price--encourages more-ethical behavior. "What Makes a Start-Up an Employer of Choice?" examines how six nonfinancial attributes, such as office location and founder qualifications, influence the appeal of new ventures for prospective employees. "Straight Talk About Pay" is a visual depiction of people's perceptions about their compensation. Most people have no idea whether or not it's fair--and that has a big effect on how long they stay in their jobs.