How can caterers boost employee engagement?

Nearly six out of ten UK employers (59%) are not doing anything at all about workplace wellbeing, or offer only very basic programmes, according to the Deloitte 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey.

The same survey also shows that less than 5% of organisations claim to offer employees a comprehensive wellbeing programme, with the most popular type of programme (59%) being flexible working schedules. Workplace wellbeing (being comfortable, healthy, and happy at work) plays a crucial part in ensuring positive employee engagement across your workforce.

Many employees now spend a substantial amount of time in front of a screen or working remotely, which means less face-to-face interaction with management, so it may be less clear if employees are struggling at work. This is particularly true for remote or mobile workers, like staff who work on pop-up food stalls or on-site at large events such as festivals and concerts, who may not interact with management on a daily basis. So what can your catering organisation do to focus on workplace wellbeing and employee engagement?

What exactly is employee engagement?

Employee engagement refers to how much members of your workforce feel connected to your organisation and appropriately challenged by their role. When employees lose faith in their purpose or feel morale begin to dip in an organisation, they are likely to switch-off mentally. This leads to lower productivity as your workforce loses motivation, and can also prove damaging in the public eye. To avoid damaging your reputation and eating away at your bottom line, it’s crucial to prioritise employee engagement when defining your company KPIs.

For desk-based and mobile employees alike, maintaining a strong connection to their role within the company vision becomes much easier with a few important best practices in place.

Implement wellness programmes based on employee feedback

Managers should sit down with employees to discuss what can be reasonably improved in the work environment to address any issues and make employees more comfortable, healthy, and happy at work. Examples of topics to cover include: the timing and frequency of breaks, break room facilities, or work conditions in the places where employees spend the majority of their workday.

This feedback from employees can also be gathered using automated surveys on a team app that employees can access from anywhere. Determine a timeline for implementation and schedule follow-ups to see how the employee is doing and if any more changes need to be made based on that feedback.

Offer workforce wellness programmes

Many employers provide low-cost or no-cost wellness plans or financial and points-based incentives for working out at a local gym or as part of a fitness programme. Other examples of workplace wellness ideas include having gym facilities with training equipment on-site, or classes that employees can engage in before or after work hours, or on lunch breaks.

Classes that focus on relaxation and mindfulness, such as yoga or other forms of meditation, are just some of the specific ways to incorporate physical activity into your workforce wellness programme. These can be very useful for staff in loud and particularly stressful environments like busy kitchens in large restaurants and hotels. Another wellness option to consider adding is a group counselling plan to your employee benefits package.

You should clearly communicate your wellness programmes you offer to employees with your workforce and encourage them to take part. Using a team communication app is an efficient way to share information like this with your employees in real-time, and can be a valuable tool to track participation in your workplace wellness programme.

Encourage open two-way communication

Another way to boost employee engagement is to ensure accessible and open lines of communication are put in place. This doesn’t just mean opening up channels for employees to communicate with their managers. Engaged employees are likely to be happier and more motivated when they have frictionless access to peers, superiors, and subordinates alike.

Open communication lines allow employees to recognise each other’s achievements such as new qualifications in areas like health and safety or customer service. Communication and productivity apps like Beekeeper specialise in making open communication forums easy-to-use for employees at all technical skill levels. Open communication helps keep company values aligned, as well as cultivate a strong company culture.

This means facilitating easy peer-to-peer messaging to increase visibility for every individual’s contribution to the team. This also means having access to a suite of top-down communication tools that managers and directors can use to build a strong culture.

Encourage healthy competition to meet goals

There are many creative ways to spark employee engagement within your organisation to motivate your employees to achieve your business goals. Adopting an employee engagement app, which employees can access from anywhere using a mobile device, opens up the possibility for gamifying team performance so that progress is visible throughout the company.

Gamifying employee engagement can involve offering incentives for participation to motivate employees in a range of areas, no matter where staff are based across the country. For example, those who demonstrate high levels of engagement could be rewarded with a free lunch or an extra day of paid time off.

As you design these incentives, it is crucial to make sure the rewards remain in line with your organisation’s values, directly or indirectly fuelling the task at hand like ordering stock on-time or recording fridge temperatures. Using digital tools to track daily progress gives employees a visual medium for self-recognition, inspiring them to spur friendly competition among their peers and beat personal records.

Use the right communication and engagement platform

Employee engagement and wellbeing is crucial to the success of any organisation in the catering industry and creating happy, mission-driven work environments requires taking an active interest in the day-to-day experience of employees.

You can do this by using the right communication and team productivity platform, which can connect operational systems and communication channels.

By Cristian Grossmann, CEO and co-founder of employee communication app Beekeeper

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