Catering for emotional needs, too
"The important thing that we always do is talk to people. It’s the small stuff. It’s not rocket science but it is important,” says Russell Scandrett, one of the three founder-directors at Catering Alliance.
He and his partners, Michael Scott and Sean Hagan, are always on the road visiting sites, keeping in touch with the people who make their organisation tick. This attitude is appreciated by the staff, 83% of whom think they are full of positive energy.
Joyce Horton has worked for the company since it was set up in 1995. She started on its first contract, the Finning Caterpillar plant in Cannock, Staffordshire — which she now manages. “It’s like a family,” she says, “not like a job.”
Catering Alliance appreciates the skills of older women who have spent their lives cooking for their families and managing household finances. Some of “the girls”, as they refer to themselves, on Horton’s team are pushing 60, and one was 73 when she left last year. The atmosphere is good: 78% of staff feel a strong sense of family in their team, and 88% laugh a lot with them.
Scandrett thinks this is one reason why staff turnover is only 18%, well below that of its leading competitor, even though the basic pay is just £4.60 an hour. Our figures back him up: 74% of staff say they love working for the company and 76% are proud to do so.
Catering Alliance is good at managing people. In our survey, it has the fifth-highest score for having managers who are excellent role models (74%); eighth for support from managers (80%); sixth for having managers who talk openly and honestly with them (83%); and ninth for managers trusting people’s judgment (82%).
Managers are central to training and fulfilling potential, with 81% of staff saying they get support when they need to learn new skills.
Christine Slighton joined the Finning Caterpillar site in 2003 after 19 years at home bringing up her children. Her testimony supports our survey findings: “The induction was very good and I’m still undergoing training. I get on well with the managers — they’re very approachable. It’s a very friendly group.”
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