There's no denying there's been a monumental shift in the workforce throughout the last two years. "The Great Resignation" can be felt across many industries, and the baking industry is no exception. Employee engagement and loyalty go hand-in-hand, oftentimes with each influencing each other equally. For instance, an engaged employee is more likely to feel loyalty to the company because they have ‘more skin in the game’, while a loyal employee is more likely to respond by being more engaged on social media by ‘sharing the good news’! Employee engagement for remote employees presents an entirely new set of challenges we had not previously had to address. We realized early on that we needed to implement new strategies to ensure our staff continued to feel valued, appreciated, and heard - through every step of the process. Here are some of the employee engagement strategies we have in our toolkit:
Annual team-wide brainstorms to seek ideas from every level of the company. To keep things fun and fresh, we create “brainstorm teams” that are designed to ensure team members are interacting with people outside of their department. Brainstorming occurs across all categories – product development, marketing strategies, logistics and any other category the team collectively decides to explore together. To encourage maximum team participation, we have only one rule: every idea has merit.
Product development from the ground up. New products and ideas often generate from top down, but we recently opened up product development to our entire baking team, from our interns to our junior bakers to our senior managers. The result is a more creative – and delicious – product development process that fosters team motivation and unity at every level. By feeling like they are a part of more strategic level decisions and helping to co-create products, our employees develop a sense of having ‘more skin in the game’ which as we mentioned above, has truly increased employee loyalty.
Monthly meetings to share company wins, recognize employee successes, and share customer feedback. The setting is informal and fun, and centers around boosting company morale and encouraging team communication. To keep the meeting playful and motivating, we even brought in a bright orange hard hat which is awarded to and signed by the hardest worker for that month as chosen by the team. Special treats or drinks are brought in, and each meeting ends with some type of team building activity that merges both the baking and the customer service teams. The monthly hard hat meeting has become critical in fostering employee engagement and loyalty - resulting in happier and more productive team members.
Employee Engagement Strategies for Remote Employees
Regular employee check-ins, both formal and informal, as a way to stay accountable to our team and ensure they have a platform to express their opinions. This employee engagement strategy has become particularly important for remote employees. For informal check ins, we have recently implemented virtual coffee breaks. We encourage everyone to brew a coffee or grab their favourite drink and we all jump on a video call together. We don’t talk about “work” directly - instead, we ask how their day is going, how they’ve been feeling and if they’re facing any work-related challenges. We always end the “break” with something light - a funny story, a new restaurant someone tried, upcoming vacation plans; everyone needs a break from work, even if (and sometimes especially if) they’re working from home, and small-talk over coffee can go a long way.
These strategies have worked well for our team, leading to more innovation in the kitchen and a shared feeling of pride in all our company wins and achievements. We're curious, what employee engagement strategies are in your toolkit?