Improving Employee Engagement through Culinary Experiences

According to a new Gallup poll, Americans are increasingly disenchanted and disconnected from their workplace. Employee engagement in the US dropped to 32% in 2022, down from 34% in 2021, and 18% of American workers said they are actively disengaged at work, an increase of 2% from 2021.

The COVID pandemic was a catalyst that brought in-office work as we know it to an abrupt halt. As the pandemic lingered and remote work or hybrid work became the new normal, the connectivity of employees and the collective culture of companies and teams began to fade, further contributing to low employee engagement.

According to a report by Glassdoor, since 2009, companies with the best company cultures consistently outperformed competitors and their average market by up to 115%. A strong company culture is based on solid connections between all employees, leading to a more collaborative and productive workplace. As more companies are embracing a return to the office, rebuilding relationships and company culture will undoubtedly be a priority.

At Compass Group, we believe that food is a great way to bring people together and build community and connectivity. We have been working with our clients across the country to build culinary-based events and experiences to help engage teammates.

Here are just a few ways we’re helping our clients develop cultures using food as the bridge.

Food Truck Festivals

Food truck festivals are a fun way to create communal, relaxed environments that allow guests to explore new cuisines while mingling socially. The food truck industry has continued to grow in popularity over recent years thanks to a growing interest in diverse and ethnic menus. Food trucks also provide companies with a great opportunity to support the local community, another consideration greatly valued by a Millennial and Gen Z workforce. Utilizing Food Fleet, a Compass Group company, we have access to an extensive network of local food trucks serving hundreds of markets across the country.

Cooking Classes and Demonstrations

teaching kitchen

Our interactive Teaching Kitchen sessions allow guests to explore food, culinary and nutritional literacy in an engaging environment. These interactive cooking classes are guided by professional chefs or dieticians who help guests prepare and make dishes that will translate into better cooking skills at home. Pop-up local and star chef appearances are a great addition to increase engagement and classes can be virtual to connect those employees who may still work from home.

Pop-Up Events

Here today, gone tomorrow. These impromptu events often take place outside of the typical breakfast and lunch hours to create additional opportunities for colleagues to mingle with one another and expand their connections. From local breweries providing pop-up beer flight tastings to specialty coffee baristas and pour-overs to local artisans or farmers selling their goods, we continuously work with our large network of suppliers and partners to bring surprise and delight moments to employees.

Afternoon/After-Dark Happy Hours

Hosting a late afternoon or after-dark happy hour is a perfect way to showcase specialty cocktails, hip mocktails, and local craft beers for seasonal events, team building activities and networking. Our happy hour events have included hands-on mixology classes, craft sake tastings, and unique pairings like wine and chocolate, beer and cheese, and bourbon and charcuterie.

Breaking Bread Together

A communal dining experience, Breaking Bread Together allows employees to reserve a spot and enjoy a four-course, family-style meal with dishes to pass. Not only is this a great way to showcase various menu items, but this experience encourages coworkers to eat together, offering an opportunity to meet others from different departments and form better working relationships.

Building employee engagement through food

At Compass Group, the leading global hospitality company, making special, connecting moments is what we do best. We continually strategize and look for ways to engage and captivate our guests. We can help you create a strong and vibrant culture that improves engagement and we do it through what’s natural to us: food.

Interested in learning how we can help you rebuild your culture? Let’s talk about it!