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The food industry is one of the last to rely so heavily on minimum-wage workers who are required to make dozens or hundreds of operational “micro-decisions” every day, in critical areas like purchasing and preparation.

What The Bear can teach us about fixing the talent side of foodservice

How one data provider is modeling a better way to work, starting with its own team.

We founded Galley Solutions with the audacious goal of aligning food supply with demand to reduce scarcity and make healthy food more accessible.

This lofty ambition made perfect sense; our company’s software helps food businesses organize their food data to make the most of ingredients and run more efficient operations.

Recently we realized that we needed to recalibrate our mission, and I asked our leadership team to each come up with a new “why” statement to help us focus on a mission that would really make a difference.

Out of the seven of us, our CTO Fergie was the outlier, and the “why” he came up with shocked us: create more knowledge workers in the food industry.

This immediately resonated with the team — especially at a time when the FX Series The Bear is shining a bright and very accurate light on the chaotic world of running a restaurant, with the unrelenting intensity that exhausts and infuriates staff at all levels.

The food industry is one of the last to rely so heavily on minimum-wage workers who are required to make dozens or hundreds of operational “micro-decisions” every day, in critical areas like purchasing and preparation.

Despite having the skills and intelligence to excel and grow, these workers struggle to thrive because they’re trapped in operational inefficiency, without access to the vital information required to do their jobs well.

This creates a downward trend that begins with poor pay and working conditions and gathers momentum as employees — lacking information and analytical tools — perform far below their potential. The result is poor quality, low margins, and reduced profits. The business then can’t afford to pay anything other than minimum wage and the negative flywheel accelerates.

The system is broken, and unless something changes in how we empower teams to be more productive and have more impactful work, it won’t change.

But if we use technology to make things better for food industry workers, we can slow this negative flywheel. Better systems lead to less confusion and chaos for staff, a better working environment, and ultimately more fulfilling work.

By improving employee satisfaction, cleaning up inefficiencies to enable better work, and upskilling the industry, we will see higher retention, more skilled workers, and — consequently — higher wages. All leading to more healthy and profitable businesses.

In short, Galley is working to help reverse the chaotic, exhausting churn in human capital that is so typical of kitchens like the one in The Bear.

Creating technology to empower workers and enable them to reach their higher potential will lead to better job satisfaction and careers to be proud of. We can send that flywheel spinning in the opposite direction.

Putting our money where our mouth is

With our new mission to help food industry workers, it’s only right that we do everything we can to help our own employees live more fulfilling and productive lives too.

How? For us, everything pointed to implementing a four-day workweek, which Galley has implemented on a trial basis to start.

Having fundamentally redefined our mission to focus squarely on people, this is partly about Galley putting its money where its mouth is. Introducing a new model for getting work done will be proof that there are better ways to work — even in the highly demanding foodservice industry.

Out trial won’t require working more hours in fewer days or reducing one's workload to get the job done. Instead, it's a tangible way for the company to embrace its mission, live its values and show customers the possibilities.

We’re not going into this blind. This is a trial and will be a useful learning experience, with the advantage of a research team comprised of both external and in-house researchers.

The research team has years of experience studying purpose-driven organizations. We want to know in fine detail the impact the change has on the business. If it works, we will implement the four-day workweek permanently.

Just as our software empowers foodservice workers, we expect the four-day work week to empower Galley people by trading relaxed work time for more intentional work time. It’s a way to increase employee autonomy and live up to our values.

The outcomes that will make the trial a success for Galley are these: higher employee satisfaction, better employee retention, a decrease in knowledge loss, an increase in capacity complexity, and increased efficiency and profitability.

Putting our “why” into action

Trialing the four-day work week at Galley is another way for us to manifest the positive change we want to see in the industry by putting our mission into everything we do, from new product features, to company policy, to communications.

We hope our four-day work week trial can be an inspiration to other businesses to experiment with ways to improve the lives of their employees while working towards business goals.

The two are not opposing forces. When you start with the “why” and get everybody behind the mission, the results should take care of themselves.

Benji_Koltai.jpegAUTHOR BIO 

Benji Koltai is cofounder and CEO of Galley Solutions. Prior to co-founding his company, he designed new system platforms for Sprig, a delivery-only restaurant concept, to seamlessly integrate logistics and back-of-house operations. Today, Benji brings his expertise in software development, problem solving, and product management to lead his company. He is also an emerging thought leader in using technology to quantifiably improve the lives of food business employees while simultaneously growing customers’ businesses.


TAGS: Workforce
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