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Employee Engagement On Wheels

Jul 23, 2014

Learn how food trucks can teach you about effective employee engagement.


Stand to the right, decide on your order before you get to the window and proceed to the newest experiencing in fine dining. The current trend for truckside dining is continuing to grow, and the National Food Truck Association estimates that restaurants-on-wheels generate $1 billion of sales annually in the U.S. What’s interesting to note is that is only part of this phenomenon is about food. The rest of the buzz centers on the highly personal experience of the individual diners. 

Standing in line for lunch at a favorite food truck location is similar to a well-designed employee engagement strategy.

It’s all about the social: Many food truck owners say they couldn’t do what they do, or sell as much food as they do, without a heavy reliance on social media. Twitter and Facebook are the chief connection points between one mobile food unit and its legion of uber-urban hipsters who follow its location the way rabid sports fans follow the play-by-play. The lesson for your engagement program: If you aren’t out in front with social media, allowing your managers and employees to follow, recognize and reinforce each other through social recognition, then you might be giving your engagement program a hard-to-overcome flat tire. 

Customizable experience: Diners love being part of an experience that they can choose to create in just the way they most desire. That’s why they follow their favorite food trucks to certain corners, events or taprooms, perhaps creating a traveling dinner by stopping for their favorite menu item at a number of trucks. The secret here is that it’s all about the individual’s personal choices, and, no surprise, that’s the secret of a well-designed engagement program, too.  Allow your employees to choose how they want to be recognized. Let them opt-in or opt-out of social participation. When an engagement program is completely personal, it’s closer to becoming completely effective. 

Worth their while: No matter how terrific the graphics on the truck, no matter how long the line and no matter how clever the menu, the only way to build up a loyal fan base for a food truck is to deliver good food in a fun environment, time after time. People won’t bother to track you down and wait in line if it turns out that you weren’t really worth the wait. In the same way, too many engagement programs leave employees with a bad taste in their mouths … big hoopla for the kickoff, then no follow-up communications. Goals that aren’t clear. Rewards that don’t appeal to the global location or the multi-generations of employees. Rules structures that seem to favor the “same old” winners instead of letting others have a chance. It takes time and skill to create a just-right engagement strategy for your employees. 

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