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An unexpected way to boost employee engagement

September 2, 2014

By Andrew Shakman

What is perhaps the single most dangerous thing in your restaurant? An employee who doesn’t care.

A restaurant’s success is inherently tied to how satisfied and engaged your employees are. Employee satisfaction has a ripple effect: if the chef in the back is disgruntled, that negativity will get passed to the server, and from the server onto the customer.  In fact, in a recent Forbes article, employee engagement was referred to as “the wonder drug for customer satisfaction.”

So how can you turn the employee who doesn’t care into an engaged member of the team? How can you elevate that engagement across your entire team? The answer may surprise you: start tracking and monitoring your food waste.

Now I know you must be thinking, ‘Huh? My employees would freak if I told them they had to track all the food they throw in the trash! Sounds like a big dissatisfier.’ I hear that quite often. But in this case the conventional wisdom isn’t accurate. After a decade helping foodservice operators implement daily food waste tracking, I’ve seen front-line teams transform before my eyes countless times. Here’s why daily tracking changes culture for the better:

A foodservice employee tracks food waste using the LeanPath System.
  • It gives employees purpose-driven work. Most restaurant employees fill their days with mundane tasks: mop the floor, wash the dishes, serve the food. By focusing on food waste and reducing the amount of food that gets thrown out, they are making a difference beyond the walls of the restaurant. This work matters.
  • It gives employees something to be proud of. When do you think your employees last went home and talked to their family with positive conviction about something new they did at work? Asking employees to contribute to your food waste solution elevates their impact, in their own mind and the minds of their families.
  • It gives employees something that they are uniquely positioned to do. In most cases, it’s not the managers that drive significant reduction in food waste. It’s the line cooks that know the ins and outs of the operation, and probably have many solid ideas of how you can reduce waste, but they’ve never specifically been asked.

The concept behind food waste monitoring is simple: employees record everything that goes into the trash and meet regularly to review the data and discuss ways to prevent that waste in the future. Automated systems, like the mobile tracking application and reporting software from LeanPath, make the process quick and easy, and even have built-in gaming features to make it fun.

Employees need to feel connected to their work, and motivated that they can make a difference. Most restaurant employees pinch their pennies at home and are very careful not to waste food. These values can easily translate into the workplace, if they see that the managers and owners are taking a stance, monitoring food waste, and asking them to be part of the solution.

Andrew Shakman is the founder, president and CEO of LeanPath, a technology company providing food waste tracking systems to the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry.

Spigot of truth: Water conservation saves resources and time

September 18, 2014

By Jim Hanna

As restaurateurs, you always pay attention to water usage. The fact is, reducing water consumption makes sense financially and environmentally.

At Starbucks, we’re committed to reducing water consumption in our stores 25 percent by 2015. We’ve implemented a number of strategies to do this, including switching some of the equipment we use daily.

Starbucks is a pretty water-intensive operation. We use water in our brewing machines, our sinks, in creating our beverages, and in cleaning our dishware and stores. So we’ve had to hit this from multiple angles. First, we’ve installed more efficient dishwashing equipment, such as high-speed sanitizers. These use a smaller amount of water to clean dishes, and they work fantastically. We’ve also installed blender pitcher rinsers that blast air and a tiny bit of water into the pitchers and clean them in seconds. This saves significant water compared to traditional washing methods.

So why is this important? We’ve significantly reduced both our water usage and the time employees spend cleaning the dishes. This is a huge lift because it lets our baristas get back onto the bar more quickly, to serve more drinks to our customers.

But it’s more than that. As a leader in the business community, restaurants must do their part to help states facing potential or significant drought conditions. For Starbucksa company that focuses on being a responsible neighborwe feel a need to conserve water wherever we operate. We know other restaurateurs do, too.

So what are some ways to reduce water? Here are a few suggestions:

Get a baseline and understand where your water usage comes from. Don’t just look at your water bill. Take a look at all of the water components in your restaurant. Learn where the most significant usage is and tackle that immediately.

Install efficient plumbing and low-flow toilets. Interestingly, we found that our toilets represented the greatest source of water usage in our stores. And while it’s not necessarily sexy or glamorous, finding this out gave us the ability to focus on what we needed to do to significantly reduce our water footprint.

If you can’t do it yourself, get someone to help. There are consultants who can help you gauge how much water you use. If you’re able to implement some water-saving practices, the payback can be quite significant.

Jim Hanna is the director of environmental affairs for Starbucks Coffee Co. in Seattle, and co-chair of the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve Sustainability Advisory Council.

 Spigot of truth: Water conservation saves resources and timeAs restaurateurs, water usage is something you must always pay attention to. The fact is, reduce your consumption makes sense financially and environmentally.At Starbucks, we’re committed to reducing water consumption in our stores 25 percent by 2015. How are we doing this? We’ve implemented a number of strategies, including switching some of the equipment we use daily.As you may know, Starbucks is a pretty water-intensive operation. Within our retail footprint, we use water in our brewing machines, our sinks, in creating our beverages and cleaning our dishware and stores. As a result, we’ve had to hit this from multiple angles. First, we’ve installed more efficient dishwashing equipment, such as high-speed sanitizers, that really use a small amount of water to clean the dishes, and they work fantastically! We’ve also installed blender-pitcher rinsers that blast air and a tiny bit of water into the pitchers and clean them in a matter of seconds. This saves significant water versus traditional washing methods.So why is this important? At Starbucks, we’re significantly reducing our water usage and lessening the length of time employees spend cleaning the dishes. This is a huge lift because it allows our baristas to get back onto the bar quicker to serve more drinks to our customers.But it’s more than that. As a business community, restaurants must do their part to help states facing potential or significant drought conditions. For us, a company that focuses on being a responsible neighbor, we feel a need to conserve water wherever we operate – and we hope you do, too.So what are some ways to reduce water? Here are a few suggestions:Get a baseline and understand where your water usage comes from. Don’t just look at your water bill. Take a look at all of the water components in your restaurant. Learn where the most significant usage is and tackle that immediately.Install efficient plumbing and low-flow toilets in your restaurant. Interestingly, we found that in our stores worldwide, our toilets represented our greatest source of water usage. Intuitively, you might have thought it would come from creating our beverages, but no. And while it’s not necessarily sexy or glamorous, finding this out gave us the ability to focus on what we needed to do to significantly reduce our water footprint.If you can’t do it yourself, get someone to determine how much water you use. There are consultants who can help you gauge your usage. If you’re able to implement some water-saving practices, the payback can be quite significant.Jim Hanna is the director of environmental affairs for Starbucks Coffee Co. in Seattle, and co-chair of the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve Sustainability Advisory CoMore Resources

Learn more about conserving water on the Learn: Save Water webpage.

Watch our Conserve Conversation with Jim Hanna.