As a consultant, I spend a lot of time on the road visiting my clients. For those who travel, you know, you like to find places where you can quickly grab lunch. My criteria are a good healthy meal, friendly and courteous service, and a relaxing atmosphere. When I'm in Falmouth, which is a lot lately, O'Natural's hits the spot. In fact, I love O'Natural's.
If you've never been to O'Natural's in Falmouth, Maine, it is set up like a cafeteria. You enter the restaurant and the person who greets you is also the person who takes your order and prepares it. I'm on a health kick (doctor and spouse orders) so soup and salad has become my staple and their lentil soup is as close to my mother's as I can find.
Every time I go there I am greeted with a smile and welcome. It's like walking into Cheers! The person who waits on me always engages in friendly conversation-even though she must be feeling the stresses of the regular lunch time crowd that forms a line out the door. But no, at that point in time, I am number one and I appreciate that. I also like that they have a steady crew who have got to know me and my particular needs. You can't get that if you're churning your workforce.
I get my meal, sit down, and relax. When I go there alone, I watch the people. The employees are always working hard, keeping the place clean, but all seem to be doing it with a smile-they are fully engaged and are clearly having fun. They are all young-late teens to mid twenties-you know, that generation of workers who give all of us fits. Not this group.
So what's different at O'Natural's? I'm sure it begins with strong front line supervision. A recent Gallop study found that front-line supervisors matter most in an organization and that these supervisors positively drive the results to the bottom-line. The relationship between supervision and workers can make or break an organization.
Companies will always be successful when they engage their employees. To begin, engaged workers show up for work -every day. In fact, engaged workers average 27% less absenteeism than those that are actively disengaged. Think about it-wouldn't it be nice to be able to eliminate "mental health days?" Being able to count on all your staff showing up every day is a real god-send.
Not only do they show up, but they stay. Restaurants notoriously, as an industry, suffer from high turnover. Most managers assume turnover is the cost they must accept when they hire low skilled, college-aged workers. Yet, operations with fully engaged staff suffer 51% less turnover-and think about the cost of replacing these workers. In entry level positions the cost is 25% to 80% of the person's first year wages. But if you are turning over skilled nurses and engineers, that cost can rise as high as 400%. Turnover is expensive.
A disengaged workforce can cripple an organization. Besides absenteeism and turnover, employers can expect higher levels of shrink (retailers know all about shrink), increased accidents and workers' comp costs, and lower productivity, service and quality. When workers are not engaged, nothing seems to work.
The evidence is clear. Those employers who focus on optimizing their employee's contributions reap tremendous bottom-line benefits. Remember, unhappy employees make customers unhappy.
The good news is that creating and maintaining high employee engagement is all within an organization's control. Employees will respond to management that takes care of them. Engaged workers are focused, hard working, and productive-and customers positively respond to them. There is tremendous financial impact, so managers cannot afford to ignore their employees.
I'm a happy O'Naturals's customer. They take care of me. I regularly go there and I shout their praise for all to hear. Isn't that what you'd like your customers to do?