A school cafeteria worker smiles as she speaks to a customer

Celebrate successes of your education foodservice team

Reduce labor turnover by rewarding workers as they achieve goals.

Like the Little Engine that Could, your education foodservice program endures an uphill battle every day to meet labor challenges. Well, hard work has its rewards, and you can elevate employees by acknowledging their progress. 

The phrase “win-win” has never been more appropriate. Whether you are in K-12 food and nutrition services or college and university dining services, celebrating successes helps team members grow and improves your service.

How do I acknowledge progress?

It goes back to a basic component of upskilling: training and development. As people learn new skills, show them you are noticing and tracking their progress. A good program includes:

  • Check-ins with participants.
    • This influences continued development.
    • It enables managers to see progress.
  • Feedback and followup.
    • Employees will see a commitment to success.
  • Identifying accomplishments.
    • Mark small successes with a handwritten note.
    • Acknowledge broad accomplishments in other ways, such as a bonus.

Make celebrations meaningful

Whether it’s a verbal callout in a team meeting or some kind of tangible reward, be sure to notice a team member’s progress. Review your rewards and appreciation program so it aligns with the perks your team wants to see. Some ideas:

  • Provide a handwritten note from senior management.
  • Give a gift basket with food and snacks:
    • Specialty cookies, desserts
    • Fresh-baked bread 
    • Cured meat, cheese and crackers
    • Fresh fruit or nuts
  • Award a free take-home meal kit from your kitchen to theirs.
  • Supply free or discounted meals for a month while working.
  • Make or buy snacks for the team to celebrate the employee.
  • Present a new uniform. 
  • Hand out branded clothing or other “swag” from your school.
  • Give gift cards from a meaningful location.
  • Provide a free book on leadership and development.
  • Cover the cost for training courses, seminars of their choice.
  • Announce extra paid time off.
  • Award a bonus or pay raise. 
  • Make a donation to the employee’s favorite non-profit organization.