The Roles Culture and Benefits Play in Workplace Engagement

It’s no secret that an organization’s culture and the benefits it offers influence the engagement of its team members. In today’s economy, it’s especially important for restaurants to establish a culture and offer benefits packages that resonate well with employees, better enabling them to look at their jobs as a long-term career.

Culture plays an important role in the success of every restaurant and franchise. A great culture lays the groundwork for a great business with dedicated and engaged employees. To start, company culture should resonate with existing employees, which in turn establishes brand identity. An attractive identity will draw in better candidates and, more importantly, keep them there. The internal culture must be welcoming to new hires, and organizations should strive to engage team members from day one.

Consider offering unique incentives, which can help increase employee engagement and enhance the overall culture. Although some perks can be quite costly, they do not always have to be. The extras range from profit sharing by way of annual bonuses, to complimentary drinks and snacks, to off-site events.

Employees also value workplaces with perks that have emphases on wellness, whether it be a gym membership or brief walking breaks. Healthier employees are generally happier and willing to work harder, and they appreciate that their employers prioritize their well-being. Younger generations, especially, value workplaces that allow them to give back to the community, whether it be through company-wide days of service or additional paid time off for volunteering to a cause of their choice.

While culture and company extras are essential to engaging employees, we cannot ignore the importance of a robust benefits package. An inviting benefits package may include a 401(k), voluntary benefits (including dental and vision insurance, short- and long-term disability, group life, etc.) and employee assistance programs. When looking at the cost of implementing a good benefits package, executives should weigh the expense of employee turnover, as good benefits can keep team members around.

Paid time off is also key to keeping team members happy. Encourage employees to use this time to go on vacation or take personal health days. Providing ample time to do so will allow them to have a positive outlook on the workplace. Take a look at your plan and make sure it’s competitive within the industry. This all comes full circle as flexibility, in turn, can positively impact the overall culture. Survey your employees to gauge their interest. Research industry peers to find out what they are doing and how it’s working. Then, do what works best for your company and your team.

Employees will, of course, be engaged for many different reasons, including compensation and location. But the formula for overall high engagement levels in the workplace lies within establishing and maintaining a good culture, great benefits and a flexible environment.

Courtney Allen is Restaurant Management Practice Leader at Adams Keegan, a national HR and employer services company. Among the firm's areas of specialization are restaurant management and hospitality.

This article originally appeared in Modern Restaurant Management.