Human Resource

4 Takeaways On Employee Engagement From A Fishball Noodle Stall!

For organizations to function competitively in today’s economy, having a healthy work culture and high level of employee engagement is essential. Otherwise, organizations will have to contend with high turnover rate, operational inefficiency and potential loss. This is particularly important when there is an intense level of competition for healthcare workers globally.

Most of us have an idea of what constitutes a healthy work culture and what an engaged employee looks like. There are formal ways to do so, whether it’s quantitative or qualitative measure. In this write up, I will share informal ways to gauge your employee engagement and possibly your work culture.

This is a real live example of a local F&B organization whom I believe to have a high level of employee engagement and positive work environment. Their main product is the fishball noodles, which is a local favourite breakfast for many, and I am their regular patron. (I will not disclose their brand) From my research, I learn that they have launched 12 outlets in the past 14 years and its no mean feat in the F&B sector. These are the reasons why I believe their employee engagement level is high:


1.      Michelin Bib Gourmand Award

There are only 79 Michelin Bib Gourmand Awardees in Singapore, and these are out of an estimated 17,000 F&B outlets in Singapore. Which means they stand at the top 0.004% of the entire F&B outlets in Singapore!

In case, you are wondering what exactly Michelin Bib Gourmand Award is. According to Michelin Guide, “A Bib Gourmand restaurant will also leave you with a sense of satisfaction, at having eaten so well at such a reasonable price. It might not be as well-known as the MICHELIN Star but the Bib Gourmand is hugely popular with our followers, and our inspectors spend an equal amount of time seeking them out.

To achieve this, it will require a high level of consistency in terms of food quality, and service delivery from all their stalls. Something that is particularly hard to control when it comes to the F&B industry. This means the stall operators need to be well trained and dedicated to serving the food at its best.

Question: Are your staff well trained to perform their task?


2.     Commoditized Products With Pricing Premium

For this fishball noodle stall, their price on average is 30% higher than most stalls selling similar products in Singapore! For an industry that has a low barrier to entry, a big majority faced the inherent difficulty of commoditized pricing.

As a business operator, we understand the importance and significance of selling at a higher price. Higher price means higher gross profit, which in turn generate more budget for employee benefits. A higher employee compensation allow an organization to attract a bigger pool of candidates and offer a better salary. Ultimately most employees will gauge the values they are receiving from their employer, before they even start work.


Question: Do your employees feel that they are fairly compensated for the work they do?


3.     Prompt and Effective Service

Despite the popularity of their outlet, 90% of the time I am served within 5 mins of waiting. In this day and age where instant gratification is the norm, customers are inpatient and wants to be served quickly. There was once a customer who was requesting for the noodles to be cut after returning to the stall. The stall operator did it quickly without fuss, despite having a long queue.

In fact, most of the customers are regular patrons from the neighbourhood. If customers aren’t treated right, they aren’t coming back to give you more business. I took the opportunity this afternoon to have a brief chat with the employee. I asked him if he is the son of the business owner since he is in his early 30s and seems really dedicated, and he mentioned that he is an employee. Subsequently I asked him how his experience was working in this business so far, and he replied it’s not bad. (Which in Singapore definition means he was treated well by his employer)


Question for you: Are your customers treated well by your employee? (If they are, kudos to you!)


An article by Harvard Business Review on happy customers, read more about it here.


4.     Well-Organized and Good Hygiene

The stall itself is well organized with the utensils and food containers properly stacked, and there are no spills lying about. I can’t even spot a single fly near the store. Talking about being ready for business..

One of the first things I look out for in any F&B outlet is their layout, tidiness, and hygiene level. Heard of this saying "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" by John Wesley? An employee who cares about their job will have a special pride that makes them go the extra mile.

There is a story about a highly esteemed business leader, Kazuo Inamori who sweeps the floor, and it’s found on a blog by The Pennsylvania State University. You can read the book written by him from Amazon.


Question: Would your employee pick up a small piece of rubbish if they see it lying on the office or clinic floor?

Observation: Your employees will sweat about the small stuff if they are engaged.


While conducting pulse survey and 1 to 1 meeting maybe helpful, spending some time to walk the ground may reveal meaningful insight about the level of employee engagement.


Read Next Article: 5 Effective Ways To Reduce Employee Turnover And Improve Staff Retention


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