27 February 2012, by Chris Arnott
At Softwire, we’re keen to keep our employees happy and an important part of that is finding out what they want. One method we use in order to gauge employee feelings about various aspects of the company is to hold dinner forums.
A dinner forum is a casual event where seven or eight employees discuss the company over a meal, which the company pays for. Attendance is optional, but everyone is encouraged to go about once every couple of years.
I recently attended my first dinner forum, where 8 of us had a meal at Pizza Express in Kentish Town. The questions asked at the forum were all related to the company, but covered a wide range of topics, from people’s views on the recent company Christmas events to more abstract ideas like “What if the 8 of us started a software company? How would we run it? What would we do differently?”
The more simple questions can be a way to decide if things are being done well by the company; whereas the more open ended questions can result in good ideas for improvement that perhaps hadn’t been considered before. The discussions can be quite short or quite long depending on how much everyone has to say on each topic and everyone is encouraged to put their opinions forward.
The minutes and outcome of the forum are circulated within the company and these raise actions for employees to carry out. This gives the employees have the opportunity to put their views across and know that the company has changed slightly for the better because of their contribution. It also has the effect of making the company a nicer place to work in.
Overall, I found the dinner forum to be of great value to me as an employee and am looking forward to my next one!