Make sure great employees have purpose

By Mai Nguyen, Canadian Business | October 5, 2016 | Last updated on October 5, 2016
2 min read

This article originally appeared at Canadian Business.

The decor at the Real Food for Real Kids building in downtown Toronto is a vibrant medley of bright hues. Step into the cooking facility and you’ll see epoxy flooring in a deep Mediterranean blue—none of the blood red typically found on the floors of food-processing spaces. Lulu Cohen-Farnell and David Farnell, the married duo behind the catering company, purposely picked blue because it’s common in the daycare centres and elementary schools the company serves.

The colour, which has the bonus of conveying calm and cheerfulness, serves as a subtle reminder to employees—who bop to music and wave friendly hellos to passersby—of their purpose: feeding healthy foods to more than 15,000 kids every day.

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“We were told blue would be harder to maintain, but we went for it anyway,” says Farnell as he points to the assembly line of kale and cheese sandwiches being distributed that day. “It’s a less stressful colour, and it’s a contributing factor to why our deliveries go out on time.”

Using colours cleverly is just one of the tactics the husband-and-wife team has implemented to connect employees to their “why”— a purpose that’s bigger than making money. While compensation and benefits matter to workers, research from Gallup shows that zeroing in on a mission is linked to higher employee engagement, better retention rates and increased productivity.

Yet, according to a study by Deloitte University Press, more than a third of firms struggle to instill purpose and passion in their staff. Not so at RFRK, which has increased both its employee retention (in the high-turnover food-service industry, no less) and its rep as an employer of choice (the firm recently got 350 applications for an admin position) by making its people feel something very powerful: that their work matters.

Read the full story at Canadian Business.

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Mai Nguyen, Canadian Business