Social sustainability

“Effective staff recruitment, retention, management and development can work wonders for the sustainability of any business and the contract catering industry is far beyond exception. To steady a ship, you need a familiar crew. People you know you can count on. I am confident that Dine Contract Catering’s recent achievements have emerged from how we hire our team members, maintain their loyalty and reward their desire to progress by promotion from within.” says Ian Cartwright, Managing Director at Dine Contract Catering

 

“For me, the contract catering industry serves as an excellent thermometer to the state of our economy. When you are operating staff canteens across almost all lines of business, you soon gather an overall understanding of the economic situation. On our part, I am proud to say that none of our customers have closed a canteen for economic reasons since 2012, but I do believe this has a lot to do with Dine Contract Catering’s economic sustainability drive, rather than the economic climate.

 

When thinking about economic sustainability in the catering sector, it would be easy to cast your thoughts onto waste reduction, eco-packaging and locally-sourced food. In a manner of speaking, you have a right to. If you are indeed a daily reader of Foodservice Footprint, you may already be aware of the differences that can be made from streamlining food orders, introducing more ecologically-friendly packaging materials to your grab-and-go products and sourcing produce locally.

 

However, when I think about economic sustainability, I cast my thoughts onto a much more holistic level. In my experience, the companies that have seen the most success are those with an all-encompassing sustainability approach that does consider the aforementioned factors, but focuses their sights onto a much bigger picture… one that includes the very lifeblood of most businesses. I’m talking about staff although we call our staff, Team Members, as they are vital to our operation and are worthy of a title that reflects their importance to us.

 

Effective staff recruitment, retention, management and development can work wonders for the sustainability of any business and the contract catering industry is far beyond exception. To steady a ship, you need a familiar crew. People you know you can count on. I am confident that Dine Contract Catering’s recent achievements have emerged from how we hire our Team Members, maintain their loyalty and reward their desire to progress by promotion from within.

 

Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges for any business. And, contract catering is no exception – the industry as a whole needs to work together to ensure the message that contract catering is a terrific career is heard loud and clear. Next generation skills are vital and we all have a responsibility to shape the future and nurture the talent that comes to our door.

 

Take our current apprenticeship and graduate schemes for example. We have learnt that taking in school or university graduates and giving them the chance to develop in our industry and supporting them at every step, promotes their desire to stay with our company and move further within the business. I firmly believe that people value the opportunity to stay somewhere if the opportunities there feel right, rather than having to go through the hassle of seeking their development needs elsewhere. In turn, this not only helps a business remain stable, it minimises their recruitment costs.

 

I do not stand alone in these thoughts. Global consulting firm, BlessingWhite, found that workers will stay loyal to a company if they are given opportunities to develop. Experience, these days, seems to be a currency of its own and many will prioritise it when provided with the right opportunities. BlessingWhite’s research states that 88% of workers believe staying in a job for long periods is acceptable if there are sufficient opportunities to develop. To ensure retention and sustainable growth, I would argue it is vital businesses look towards long-term gains and provide those possibilities.

 

As a company we also invest heavily in training, personal development and educational programs to ensure that our 950 employees are given both the support and opportunity to grow with the company. Testament to this is the fact that we train our people every month and currently have 20% of our workforce working towards a NVQ qualification.

 

In a sense, I realise that these ideas may seem inherently obvious. Creating more development opportunities for Team Members, encouraging career aspirations rather than a short-term fix, fostering employee well-being initiatives….these thoughts are nothing new. However, I do feel it is important to make sure that we as senior figures of our industry do not overlook the benefits of long-term staff development and care. In my view, undertaking and following such principles is the key to sustainable economic growth. We should continue to look at how we can encourage emerging and existing talents to stay: developing them further would be to the benefit of all.

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