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Foodservice team, assemble!

As summer begins to fade and vacation season comes to a close, it’s time to start thinking about revitalizing staffers’ connections to one another. It’s certainly no secret in the Winsight offices that I’m a bit of a social butterfly, which, in turn, means I’m a rockstar at team building. Can you spot the inter-office activity I haven’t organized from the list below?

• Breakfast Sandwich Fridays: Co-workers rotate responsibility of providing ingredients for customizable sandwiches. Mimosas may have been involved.
• “Sound of Music” Soundtrack Singalong Thursdays. The majority of the office wishes mimosas were involved.
• Snowball fights at the park against rival publications. Adding ice chunks automatically results in disqualification.
• The Golden Piggy Bank Award, presented weekly from one employee to a peer who has gone above and beyond. The enormous swine lives on the winner’s desk for all to admire.

Trick question—they’ve all happened (though I’ve recently swapped Rodgers & Hammerstein for Carly Rae Jepsen’s energetic new single). In my experience, the most successful team-building exercises have very little to do with work and more to do with getting people to relax and be silly with one another. When you see a colleague as a person, you’re likely to work harder toward your common goals.

At schools across the country, groups of kitchen staff, student employees and office folks are coming together for the very first time. In senior living facilities and hospitals, the bustle of family trips is over, and folks are settling back into their regular routines.

Once those first few trial-by-fire weeks have passed, it’s time to focus on those intangibles that make a team great. Beyond staff singalongs, the September issue of FoodService Director includes tips for handling sexual harassment, creating a culture of food safety and empowering your crew to be entrepreneurs who are excited about putting their own ideas into action.

That last task might be the most important. Being able to pursue their own passions to make a difference at an operation is another way of keeping employees engaged, proud and, well, employed. If retention is an issue at your operation (which, let’s be honest, where isn’t it a problem right now?), it’s something to keep in mind. Other operators are turning to stay interviews to keep valued employees on board.

Whether it’s the simple practice of greeting each employee every morning, or exchanging a tacky golden piggy bank (her name is General Sow, by the way), fall is an awesome time to refresh or kick-start your team’s bonds. Who knows how many more folks might stick with the organization into 2018. 

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