Pet Projects, Part 1

It might seem counterintuitive to reward an exemplary employee with more work. But if it’s the right kind of work, it might be just the ticket to boost engagement and keep that prize performer on your payroll.

Pet projects are defined as activities and goals pursued as personal favorites. Many of us have pet projects outside of work, but there’s a growing trend toward bringing the concept into the corporate arena. The benefits are two-fold: to your employee and to your company.

When you encourage an employee to engage in a pet project – ideally one of their choosing – you demonstrate trust, show respect for their initiative, and foster creative thinking. It’s a great way to make sure the top talent in your organization stays challenged and happy…and just stays.

How does your company benefit? Pet projects are the perfect way to try new ideas with a minimum of risk and cost. If chosen wisely and executed well, they can open up new opportunities and markets. For example, Google allows all of its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week – or one day a week – on pet projects. They say that many of the products in Google Labs started out as pet projects.

If you’re wondering what sort of pet projects to initiate, the answer really lies in what your organization does and what you – and your employee – want to accomplish. Obviously, if you’re in database management, your employee may be better off exploring his passion for puff pastry creations outside business hours. But don’t entirely discount personal interests. There’s often a way to merge them with corporate goals…or in a way that benefits your workforce or the community at large.

Work with your employee to set realistic goals for completion. Have them present the finished project or report on the findings to upper management or even company-wide. And be sure to offer some form of reward – a day off, a project theme-related gift – to provide further recognition for a job well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *