Anthony Bennett: Creating an approach to fully engage your workforce

Employee benefits are proven to show positive results, primarily in the visible signs of heightened work ethic and rise in promotion of positive culture. Anthony Bennett discusses how showing appreciation and involving your employees can help to promote these results.

For most industries, the workplace has changed pretty much beyond recognition, and the future of the workplace is continuing to progress. The way we work is constantly evolving thus organisations need to look for other strategies, tools or approaches to sustain and grow their business. A focus on employee engagement has become a top business priority for senior executives. To do this, it’s important to look at your company culture and how this aligns with your employee engagement.

People engagement is critical in any industry, but for the hospitality industry, which has traditionally had a high staff turnover rate, it is paramount. In 2015, an average turnover rate of 20 per cent cost the industry approximately £274m, according to the workforce development charity People 1st.

Having an engaged workforce is about much more than just offering a decent salary. In recent years, the best workplaces have woken up to this fact and have begun to emphasise work-life balance, career and personal development, good communications and training, shared values, inspirational leadership, and more.

If you really believe in rewarding your colleagues for their continued hard work, then offer them a range of benefits, so that there is something for everyone. In turn, this results in an exemplary work ethic and promotes a positive culture. At Bennett Hay, our main aim is to not only attract, but to retain the best people – and we have successfully achieved this, as per our turnover rate which is one of the lowest in the industry.

Whilst there is no universal equation for full engagement, there are some key points you may want to consider, especially if you are working in the hospitality or food service industry. Here, we outline some of the most successful ways we promote employee engagement at Bennett Hay.

Show your appreciation

Your team will feel appreciated and acknowledged if they are rewarded for exemplary work. Naturally, then they will go that little bit further for a company if they know they are being acknowledged and feel that senior management knows they’re lucky to have them. Rewards come in all shapes and sizes, you don’t have to break the bank to make a team member feel appreciated. Anything from croissants on a Monday morning to a Friday lunch can improve team wellbeing and subsequent engagement levels.

Bennett Hay hosts a black tie dinner and dance every year. Teams and individuals receive guest awards for their dedication, innovation and hard work. Aiming to achieve an award gives people the incentive to work hard and excel at their job whilst at the same time, receiving an award reinforces that good work is being recognised.

Allow your workforce to develop

All Bennett Hay colleagues are given the opportunity to develop their skill sets and are encouraged to take part in the company’s ‘Transformational Training Academy’, a comprehensive training programme that allows employees to work alongside industry leading trainers. Not only do these kinds of opportunities excite people as they look forward to working with leading professionals but they also allow people to learn something new, possibly outside of their usual work remit. Humans have an innate desire to learn and grow hence why so many of our colleagues sign up to the programme. From an engagement perspective, we have seen that encouraging personal and professional development means that people feel valued and confident in their abilities. This then translates into confidence in their job role and a desire to push boundaries, which is good for the company.

It’s all about involvement

Bennett Hay also offer an equity share ownership programme, which rewards colleagues of all levels who have achieved the highest score on their annual performance review and delivered above-and-beyond what is expected of them. The company then buys them back at a multiple based on the growth of the business in five years’ time.

Colleagues are encouraged to take part in a new volunteering scheme with ‘Benefacto’, which launched at the end of last year. Several of the team have already started participating in the scheme, including myself and co founder, Robin Hay. As well as (hopefully) inspiring others to sign up, it also exposes our growing team to a number of different activities, people and skills, showing commitment and dedication to personal development.

Our ‘Juice Forum’ takes place every quarter, and team members are invited to come along to discuss developing services and introducing more innovation across the business. People value having the freedom to express themselves and to respond fluidly and innovatively to situations.

About Anthony Bennett

Anthony has over 20 years experience within both the hospitality and facilities service industries, his roles have included sales, operations and marketing at Director level. He co founded bespoke hospitality provider Bennett Hay in 2010, the company operates in London workplace buildings providing guest services, food and wellbeing and workplace support to their clients.
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