‘Culture doesn’t eat muesli for breakfast’ – news from our HR Energy networking event

HR Energy is a collaboration between Pure and law firm Mills & Reeve. It’s a quarterly event designed to give HR professionals new learning and networking opportunities. Run by our very own Becky Wilson and Mills & Reeves’ James Kidd, we invite expert speakers to each session to talk about the latest topics and innovations in HR. 

Our speaker: Ian Hacon on company culture and wellbeing

This quarter we heard from Ian Hacon, founder of Energise.Me, a digital wellbeing platform. He’s also an experienced CEO and Non-Executive Director, and co-owner of restaurant chain and Norfolk staple, Zaks. He joined us to talk about what makes a great company culture and, on the flipside, a bad one.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quote from legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. Ian played on this quote for the title of his presentation. He pointed out that many organisations use staff wellbeing initiatives – like free muesli for breakfast, for example – as a solution to recruitment, retention and productivity. And while these types of schemes can improve all of these, they often don’t deliver the culture-changing outcomes organisations want. Ian used skits and parodies from TikTok to show just how out-of-touch some of these types of wellbeing initiatives can be when they’re introduced. Free tea, yoga in the office and resilience training just aren’t going to be enough to address the root causes of some organisations’ issues, especially if the existing culture is bad.


Maslow for culture

Ian then brought up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, something that’s well known to most HR professionals. He challenged us to think about we could relate each of the levels of the pyramid to someone’s role in an organisation.




If a company can meet these needs at all levels, employees will be happier, feel rewarded and recognised for their roles, and perform well. And this in turn will lead to an excellent organisational culture.

Our group discussion 

Ian asked us to think about what we’d learned in the presentation and use it to talk about things we’d stop at our organisations if we had the choice. Some of the things we came up with included:

  • only implementing new things after asking employees for their opinions
  • making sure successive initiatives don’t contradict each other
  • stopping employers jumping on bandwagons and ‘shiny new things’
  • making sure organisations deliver on their promises
  • stop hiding realities or results.

Everyone in the room had examples of things their organisation do well. But it was refreshing to be able to challenge the not-so-successful ideas in a safe and creative way – it gave everyone something to think about.

Next we focused on things we wanted to start doing within our organisations, and those we wanted to continue. This gave us a chance to really share ideas and work collaboratively, talking about what works well for each of us. Some inspiration from this included:

  • building teams socially as well as within business hours
  • keeping momentum going by listening to what employees want, then re-evaluating if need be
  • making ourselves more visible and available to the wider business
  • challenging the wrong behaviours, especially in leadership teams
  • adopting a more holistic approach to HR
  • focusing on individual needs across our teams.

All in all it was a great session from Ian. He got us all talking about what we can encourage our organisations to start and stop to help create the very best company cultures.

Want to take part in the next HR Energy event?

You can find out more on the HR Energy page. We’ve got lots of exciting topics coming up – like neurodiversity in the workplace for example. And if you’re an HR professional who’s ready for a new challenge, you can see what jobs we have available, or get in touch.

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Written by

Becky Wilson

As a Business Director, Becky has over 25 years’ recruitment experience. She joined Pure in 2010, and specialises in recruiting HR professionals at all levels across Norfolk. Becky also co-founded HR Energy, which provides networking and training opportunities to HR professionals.

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