Pepsi’s Process Shredder

A simple tool to motivate and satisfy your employees

Tobias van Sabben
4 min readOct 13, 2020

The most satisfied employees are the ones that feel like they’re achieving their full potential. They feel autonomous, challenged and like they’re becoming the best version of themselves. It is therefore not strange that motivating them with beautiful bells and wonderfull whistles is uneffective:

Satisfied employees don’t come to work to get free lunch. They come to work to get something accomplished.

Maybe you’ve heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Usually displayed in a pyramid (see figure below), the theory tries to explain the motivators for human behaviour. It suggests that people are motivated to first fulfill their basic needs at the base of the pyramid, before moving on to other, more advanced needs at the peak.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to describe motivation of human behaviour. Proposed in 1943.

If you’re reading this, it is likely that many of your employees have most of their needs fulfilled. They have plenty of food, a roof over their head, friends and family.

Their motivation clearly isn’t based on finding dinner anymore. Now, it is based on subjects that are a bit more abstract, and harder to accomplish for most: they are driven to find esteem and self-fullfilment in their lives. These employees want to accomplish things. They want to feel like they’re achieving their full potential.

Now, take another look at the pyramid and ask yourself:

As a leader, what can I do to motivate these fifth stage employees? How can I make them more satisfied?

Probably ‘fancy perks’ or ‘free lunch’ were not the answers to this question that popped into your head. More likely, the solutions you came up with were more complex and harder to achieve: ‘Trusting them with new challenges’, ‘Helping them grow’ or ‘Devoting my life to becoming their personal life coach’ (just kidding).

There is however a very straightforward and actionable thing you can do to increase employee satisfaction (and it does not involve you becoming a self-development coach):

Focus on making work within your organization easier, more productive and integrated.

The idea is simple. The easier, the faster and the more convenient employees can do their work, the more they get done, the more they feel like they are accomplishing something. It gives them time for new challenges. More importantly, it gives them the feeling like they’re on their way of achieving their full potential.

Although this sandwich looks great, free lunch might not be as valued by employees as most think (Source: Patrick Kalkman, Unsplash)

A great example of a company that found an effective way to make its employees’ work easier, is Pepsi. Pepsi leadership knew that many people were annoyed by the bureaucracy of their corporate environment, so they introduced a simple but radical tool (and one you can easily copy):

The Process Shredder.

The Process Shredder lets employees suggest a single thing that would make their life easier at work. Like a form, the online crowsourcing tool poses a question and collects input from as many employees as possible. The question Pepsi chose was straightforward, but groundbreaking:

“Name one process that stops you from getting things done fast.”

One simple question in a form.

Pepsi received over 260.000 employee responses.

PepsiCo’s Process Shredder

What would happen to your employee satisfaction if you would bring the most delaying and frustrating processes to light and made sure they got tackled or streamlined as soon as possible?

Not only would you show your employees you are trying to make their work better. It would show them you were actually taking action. And for you as a leader, it would do more than just increase employee satisfaction: it would make your employees more productive.

It’s a win-win.

I do not know why not every company, or even every department has implemented a Process Shredder. I believe they should. It is a brilliant catalyst for making work better, motivating employees and getting more things done as a company- which is why I really encourage you to try it.

Whether it’s a simple form, shared Excel Sheet or written vote on paper (please don’t), it will be very interesting to discover which processes delay and frustrate your employees. Show them you’re trying to make their work simpler. Their responses will amaze you.

Let me know what came out of it. I am curious to hear!




Tobias van Sabben

Optimistic Sustainability Lead | Not sure if young, old, or somewhere in between | Endlessly fascinated by human behaviour and experience | Own Views