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Workplace meals: personalisation for better management

Why adapt when you can choose?

Employees have long been victims of corporate globalisation and, as a result, a standardisation of working conditions. But now they are acting. With flex offices, new organisational models and new types of jobs, personalisation is gaining ground. Soon, there will be as many ways of working as there are employees.

The ball is therefore in the employers’ court, and they are making every effort to adapt their corporate cultures and to reinvent the employee experience, in particular as far as meals are concerned.

Let us consider the implications of personalised workplace meals, a key element in the future of these companies and their employees.

‘Everybody is somebody’

It might sound merely like the chorus of a pop song, but this adage has never been truer. And businesses have clearly grasped this. Spotify personalises its users’ playlists according to their favourite tunes, while Uber Eats adapts its offers to suit individual eating choices. Google and its algorithm can (almost) anticipate what we are about to type into the search bar. Accustomed to ‘user-centric’ services, consumers have become used to being respected, listened to, and empowered by products that are increasingly tailored to their needs. But if every consumer is unique, what about employees?

Open space offices and the 8-hour day are undergoing a revolution. The advent of working flexibility has shaken up the way organisations operate, whatever their size. While Europe is spearheading these changes (51% of employees work from home at least once a week in Sweden, and 40% in the Czech Republic and Slovakia), followed closely by North America (48% of employers encourage all their employees to work from home), it is nonetheless a global movement instigated by employees: in India and Brazil, 58% of staff are ready to take a cut in their salaries for increased flexibility in their working hours and locations. And world trends are proving them right: it is anticipated that by 2022, 60% of employees will benefit from more than one day a week of remote working (compared to 29% in 2019).

In a more flexible, decentralised and unstructured working context, how can workplace meal offerings be adapted? How can each employee’s considerations be integrated, while creating an overall employee experience and building staff loyalty?

At GitHub, 50% of employees work remotely. Very early on, creating a collective experience and culture was a key issue for them. In their view, there was no ideal model; one had to be designed for each employee. All that remained was to get inventing! But how? By developing technological and organisational solutions to create a healthy environment for everyone, be it in terms of diet, communication or social matters.

From fast food to flexi food

In this context, a one-size-fits-all solution to workplace meals no longer appears to be entirely suited to employees’ increasing requirement for flexibility. So, what changes must be made to bring about this transformation, and what are the options?

Technological flexibility.

Employees now use smartphones for every aspect of their day-to-day lives. This holds true for meals, with applications such as MySodexo. 

Thanks to MySodexo, luncheon vouchers and cards are being replaced by mobile payments. With a few simple taps, you can use your smartphone to check your balance and operations, block your card if it is lost, and link your personal bank card to your lunch card to remove limits. Technology is eliminating payment friction.

The user experience is taken to yet another level by geolocation and creating a profile: lunchtime for all staff is enhanced by personalised offers in their favourite restaurants or easier group bookings.

Offer flexibility.

The food service offer must evolve to accommodate the new dietary habits of employees (vegan, food intolerances and dietary requirements) and evermore fragmented working rhythms.

The Big Four (GAFA) have been amongst the first businesses to integrate these aspects: lunch allowances, meals available throughout the day, healthy snack options, personalised meals, and programmes adapted to all diets.

Beyond company productivity and appeal, these fundamental changes also address the questions of staff well-being and the employee experience.

Corporate food services as a new lever for employee loyalty

‘Changing jobs as often as changing clothes’. If this expression existed, it would be a fairly accurate reflection of the mentality of young generations arriving on the job market. With one European millennial out of every two changing jobs once before the age of 30, and a growing desire to be self-employed (46% of Europeans under 30 are estimated to be ready to take the plunge*), adaptability has changed sides. By coupling this data with the search for meaning that is on everyone’s lips whatever their age, the challenge of building loyalty has been well and truly set. It is down to employers to adapt to their talents, and not the other way round.

Personalisation… right down to the food that’s on the plates

Between vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, a range of food intolerances and growing environmental awareness, there are now almost as many dietary requirements as there are employees. It is therefore vital for businesses to offer solutions tailored to each employee so that they can flourish in the workplace without hindrance. Here too, applications like MySodexo have been designed to address these issues: for example, when information about dietary requirements and preferences is recorded, suitable options can be recommended. It is an application in which employee tastes and preferences are placed at the heart of a service through a single tap on a device.

 Flexibility, personalisation and experience are the three operative words for organisations that know how to attract and retain talent.

Businesses are abandoning generic programmes in favour of personalised employee experiences.

To suit all paces, in this time of widespread remote working. To suit all profiles, in an era marked by a search for meaning. To suit all dietary requirements, in a context of enhanced attention to nutrition.

Food services are faced with all these issues and are providing answers.

The industry’s specialist operators have devised numerous offers to meet consumers’ expectations and to support and guide organisations in their development. Workplace meals have thus become a cornerstone of the employee experience, with a capacity to inspire deeper change in the entire value chain.

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