The 2024 Workplace: Elevating Experiences with Local Food

Complete with the latest 2024 employee survey data and trends, this guide is designed to help you transform your workplace into one that resonates with the expectations and values of today’s modern workforce.

How are today’s most innovative companies responding to the rapidly changing realities of attracting, developing, and retaining talent? After the global business disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are rethinking the role that Human Resources can play in building stronger teams of highly engaged workers. In the “Ready for the Future of HR?” episode of TeamBonding’s Team Building Saves the World podcast, host Rich Rininsland explored this topic with Emily Karottki, Fooda’s Vice President of People, and Traci Chernoff, Director of Employee Engagement at Legion Technologies. 

While you might expect Fooda’s VP of People to say something on-brand like “businesses should engage employees with food,” Karottki had more than Workplace Food Strategies on her mind. Pulling from years of HR experience, she provided a clear-eyed view of the challenges HR departments face today. What did she have to say? Read on.

The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly challenging for HR departments, as many companies had to urgently rethink their entire business models in order to survive. The early months of 2021 were filled with mass layoffs, company reorganizations, and nationwide office closures. It was a tough time to be an HR executive at a company that provides office lunch services.

Luckily, Fooda was able to adapt by finding new ways to help clients engage employees with food. One of the secrets to the company’s success, Karottki says, was Fooda’s focus on retaining their most engaged employees.

“What’s a company without its team?” Karottki said. She noted that retention has since become the “number one issue” for many HR departments in the post-pandemic era. The problem is bigger than just compensation and benefits. Management issues, company stability, a lack of professional development opportunities, inflexible remote work policies, and other issues are all contributing factors to employee retention.

“We can’t lose sight of what’s going on with our employees, and what we can do on the business side to balance their needs,” Karottki said. “If you want to retain the right people, then you have to have honest conversations about why people are leaving.”

Both guests noted that the future of HR is still coming into focus, with many companies still struggling to find the right mix of perks and policies for building a workforce of engaged employees. What exactly are these workers looking for?

“In general, people want to join organizations with benefits that check all the basic boxes,” Karottki said. “People wanted flexibility before the pandemic, and we’re still seeing that post-pandemic. People also want to know what they’re working at a place that cares about them, and which has meaningful wellness policies. Millennial workers increasingly also want to know what a company stands for in terms of community impact and social justice. They see it as part of the overall package when they are considering saying ‘yes’ to a position.”

Both Karottki and Chernoff were optimistic about the future of HR, with the last few years creating opportunities to take a more dynamic approach to hiring and retention. As a VP at Fooda, a company that helps clients engage employees with food as a means for encouraging a return to the office, Karottki is also in a unique position to understand the long-term impacts of newer trends like remote work.

“Real team experiences are irreplaceable,” she said. “How do we come together and bond as a team, or create a consistent company culture, when we’re all spread out across multiple cities, or even multiple countries? I think that’s going to be a challenge. We might need to get back to basics, and find ways to bring everyone together physically.”

As a key member of Fooda’s team, Karottki knows that one of the easiest ways to incentivize participation in these in-person gatherings is with great food from local restaurants. It’s more than just a great job perk, it’s a tool for building truly engaged teams. Interested in learning more about what Fooda can do for your business? Schedule time to talk to us.