Loyalty tip takeaways: what workplace leaders can learn from restaurateurs about engagement

HomeResourcesBlogLoyalty tip takeaways: what workplace leaders can learn from restaurateurs about engagement
Workplace Leader
What do workplaces and restaurants have in common?
Tailoring with technology
Reward and recognition

Is your workplace like a restaurant? You might think not, but it certainly shares one very important characteristic – it needs to please consumers.

Industry watchers say today’s employees are behaving more and more like consumers, complete with individual needs and demands. And with talent in short supply globally, workplace leaders need to keep employees happy – or face losing them.

What do workplaces and restaurants have in common?

“Businesses must treat talent in the same way they’d treat a customer by finding ways to differentiate themselves.” Fortune

Restaurants use a sophisticated range of digital tools and data analysis methods to understand their customers, so they can offer them a service personalized with pinpoint accuracy, building loyalty and engagement.

Savvy workplace managers are now taking tips from their book to personalize the employee experience and retain their best workers. These include:

  1. Data capture and analysis
  2. Building a seamless environment
  3. Individual treatment
  4. Two-way communication
  5. Reward and recognition.

Hybrid working solutions including meeting room management systems and hot desking software integrate with sensors to give managers real-time information on how their workspace is being used.

This allows leaders, hand in hand with HR and IT, to design and repurpose space so it fits perfectly with the way their people are working on a daily basis. For example, static meeting rooms may be repurposed as drop-in collaborations spaces.

This flexible and responsive space also needs to be available when people want it, so workspace management technology makes it possible for employees to find and book the desk or room they need on a mobile app – a little like the online restaurant booking that is now highly popular.

Tailoring with technology

Workspace scheduling apps like Rendezvous by NFS allow employees to customize workspace to their own individual preferences. For example, there’s a colleague search facility so they can make sure the people they need for collaboration are the office at the same time as then.

They can also specify details of where they want to work – a quiet space, for instance. It makes coming to the office a far more attractive option.

The hybrid working world has been shown to cause some problems with staff engagement, and this is another area where managers can take tips from restaurants. They encourage two-way communication using techniques including social media and emails; scheduling meetings and gaining feedback in the office becomes far easier with the right technology.

Reward and recognition

Recent surveys have shown that different generations in the workplace can be encouraged to come to the office in different ways.

For Gen Z, for instance, hybrid working is important, but they also highly value the support, training, mentoring and friendship that they get from face-to-face office working. And 14% admit that they are attracted by office perks such as free snacks or lunches. (Randstad).

Rewards of this kind are very much a restaurant trend; loyal customers will be given offers and freebies not only to thank them for their custom, but also to draw them back for a further visit.

PwC says many hybrid working organizations are reviewing their entire approach to reward and its alignment with the employee value proposition:

“We’ll start to see reward connecting into other areas of HR – learning, resourcing, wellbeing and even sustainability. Individuals could be able to transfer their bonus into a learning budget for example, or trade benefits on a real-time basis.

“We like the idea of the Reward Passport – which gives individuals a draw-down account for areas like wellbeing spend, training and travel to the office for remote workers.”


As employees continue to morph into consumers of the workplace, their managers need to respond appropriately to make sure that recruitment and retention do not become an issue.

Technology, with its powerful ability to monitor, report and analyse, is an invaluable aid in staying ahead of the curve and satisfying the individual needs of each and every member of staff.

As Forbes puts it: “A natural progression for savvy companies that subscribe to the mantra, ‘people are our greatest asset,’ is translating their customer-focused approach to their workforce by taking care of their people and treating them like customers. This helps to create employees for life.”

Employees for life – that’s really something worth aiming for, isn’t it?

Discover more about the employees-as-consumers trend and what you need to do about it now: