Staff Appreciation Boosts Business

It’s another workday, and among all the other responsibilities that need to be addressed, one’s own nourishment is of major significance for planning the day. Whether it’s getting started with what is said to be the most important meal of the day (breakfast) or pondering what to eat at the crest of the work shift, employees are concerned with when, where and what they will eat, especially lunch. In the hospitality industry, demands such as extended hours or coverage for an absent colleague are a real concern that can interfere with planning meals, thereby affecting employee morale. To curb this, a sweeping trend gaining momentum in the hospitality industry is instituting employee cafeterias. More and more hoteliers and casinos are realizing the general benefits of providing easy and quick access to good food with the purpose of boosting energy, social interactions and overall employee loyalty and appreciation.
In With the “In” Crowd

The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Los Angeles, CA, and Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino are leading the way for the generous employee cafeteria trend. When it comes to the manner in which their employees dine, the workers of these properties are definitely part of the “dine-in” crowd. Both properties are frontrunners in the conception of quality Food & Beverage (F&B) programs for their staffs to enjoy.
In 2011, the Hyatt Regency invested $81,000 on revamping their staff’s cantina. This thorough overhaul included all-new décor, tables, chairs, lighting, flat-screen monitors and healthier, higher-quality food similar to cuisine found on its restaurants’ menus. According to “Cando Cantina” published by leading industry publication Hotel F&B magazine. For the Mohegan Sun Casino, Executive Pastry Chef Lynn Mansel explains his resort has been offering the benefit of an employee cafeteria since 1996, when the casino resort first opened its doors.
“Mohegan Sun operates an employee dining area, open 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. We do themed days for special holidays so employees working can enjoy the special menus,” the award-winning chef shares. For both parties, the passionate energy that goes into maintaining employee morale is showcased in an exciting array of food options allowing employees one less thing they have to plan each day.

The Exhilarating Menus & Atmosphere

Many lodging destinations put forth tremendous effort to impress the paying guests who walk through their doors, and many are beginning to see the same enthusiasm should be shown for the employees who work diligently for them on a daily basis. For example, Chef Mansel reports that the Mohegan Sun stocks their employee cafeteria with breakfast items ranging from a wide selection of enticing pastries and cereals to an extensive mixture of savory breakfast meats and fresh eggs made-to-order. Hot food entrees such as Asian Congee, juicy roast beef and steamed mussels are served fresh from their selection of varying food stations. A diverse array of indulgent desserts from hot bread pudding to fresh fruit round out a rousing buffet of nutrition fit for royalty. Salads, soups, ice cream, coffee, teas, soda, juice and cereals are available all day without employees having to go into the hot food section. These kinds of menu selections help to keep employees energized and healthy, and save them the trouble of offsite food and travel costs.
Parallel to the stimulating smorgasbord the Mohegan Sun offers, the Hyatt Regency puts as much emphasis on the health aspects of their menu items for employees. In fact, the establishment hired a food nutritionist to assist with educating the employees on the importance of food choices and portion control.
“The food we serve is restaurant quality that focuses on total health and wellness,” explains Adrienne De Vore, director of public relations, Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. “For example, instead of white rice, we have brown, and instead of vegetables sautéed in butter, they are steamed,” said DeVore. The Hyatt even incorporated Meatless Mondays into the culinary regime. The Hyatt’s commitment to providing their employees with healthful and satisfying dining options is one that creates a great atmosphere and synergy within the company.
Not only should the sustenance offered to hotel employees be of great importance, but the environment as well. According to De Vore, the décor helps make the dining experience one that is more engaging and energizing. With the chic makeover of the Hyatt’s employee cafeteria, from elegant serveware to modern decoration, the revitalizing energy the room creates promotes a more social atmosphere and encourages a medley of staff with varying responsibilities to congregate with one another during break times – a practice that might not normally happen.
De Vore also observes that benefits of a well-developed employee cafeteria include increased engagement, increased promotion and understanding of the importance of health and wellness, and healthcare cost management due to the physical and emotional wellbeing of employees.

Profitable Results

Guest interaction is a pivotal part of the strategy behind the institution of employee cafeterias. The better a guest is treated the higher the likelihood they will return and/or speak notably of your establishment – a notion further reinforced by Michael Costa, editorial contributor to Hotel F&B magazine.
“The trend in employee cafeterias today is renovating and updating both the room and menu to offer staff an elevated, restaurant-quality experience with healthier food choices, so they’re energized when they return to work, have a positive attitude, and transfer that to the guests during their interactions,” Costa explains. The concept of positive energy reflected between worker and guest has shown in the Hyatt’s increased guest service scores as well.
Kind treatment is something every worker appreciates, especially when being recognized for their daily contribution. The appreciation factor is one that Owen Parker, general manager, Hilton Garden Inn, Concord, NC, strongly supports, seeing as they occasionally furnish meals for the Hilton’s 40-person staff as a way to applaud the workers commitment. Additionally, Parker, who has worked at several locations offering employee cafeterias, credits these establishments for supplying nourishment, saving employees time and money by ensuring they don’t have to go offsite to purchase food, and as Parker stated, utilizing this “wise investment” as a way to “say thank you.”
The investment in employees’ overall health is a financial sacrifice for many companies, but the return on investment proves to be profitable in the form of great marketing and service. Simply having a productive, engaging staff to further enhance the experience of visiting guests promotes positive reviews. And when customers receive exceptional customer service, return business is certain, employee morale is maintained and the bottom line is secure – all sound reasons that the employee cafeteria trend provides more than just sustenance.