It’s time to bring disruptive ideas and models into corporate dining programs. Disruption will require rethinking the entire system around modern concepts and technology. But the changes don’t have to be huge, and they don’t have to be extremely expensive. Even small changes to the cafeteria status quo can yield huge improvements to employee engagement and overall happiness.
In recent years, facilities have experimented with a variety of solutions. Here are a few that saw positive results:
1) Authentic Recipes and Ingredients
Too often, corporate dining programs have used the same recipes for years, maybe even decades. And over those years, cafeteria corporations have worked to make each dish as profitable as possible, because they care most about shareholder return, not the customer’s experience. As a result, the rice next to your tacos is the exact same rice that’s next to your kabobs, or your spring rolls. Challenge your provider to offer better options, even if it means fewer options…
2) Quality Over Quantity
In-N-Out Burger has offered 4 menu options for decades: Double cheese burger, cheeseburger, hamburger, french fries (let’s be honestly, that’s really just two items). Despite the lack of options, sales grew 7.3% last year. Unlike In-N-Out (and Shake Shack, and Chipotle), cafeteria companies have focused on quantity, while letting quality take a back seat. The trouble is, offering too many options often leads to fewer sales. Focusing on a few great options per day could boost sales at your facility.
3) Better Technology
Modern cafeterias use technology to provide new options for employers and employees. Cafes now have dedicated web pages with that location’s daily menus, and some offer automated daily menu emails. Often, management solicits employee feedback through online portals and surveys to improve the corporate dining programs. Programs like this help keep your cafeteria top of mind when it’s time for lunch.
4) Promote Wellness
Professionals are focusing on health and wellness at the office more than ever. A HR Dive research found 20% growth from 1996 to 2016 in the percentage of companies offering wellness programming and information at the office. Equally noteworthy is the fact that 77% of these companies report their wellness programs have been effective in improving health outcomes and lowering healthcare costs—a win-win.
It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to wellness, here are a few ideas:
- List nutrition facts of all the menu options in your cafeteria.
- Switch to healthier ingredients. Chances are, customers won’t be able to tell the difference between low-fat or full-fat cheese on their sandwiches.
- Invite registered dietitians into your facility to give lunch and learn sessions about making healthier choices.
5) Guest Restaurants
Instead of being served the same old schedule of forgettable, bland menu items week to week, local eateries and caterers deliver a mix of fresh, exciting meals to employees every day. These restaurants use their own facilities to prepare the food, and their own staff to serve it. This completely eliminates an entire range of on-site cafeteria expenses, creating a substantial cost reduction in the process.
The old cafeteria model is a relic of the past, kept afloat by a few corporate dining conglomerates. Improvements to your corporate dining programs won’t come from them. Landing on this blog is already a sign that you’re ready for something new. Interested in learning more about what’s out there? Fooda’s award-winning alternative to the traditional corporate cafeteria is a game changer.