When Bon Appétit Management Company relaunched its longstanding Win ‘Em Over with Service (WOWS) hospitality training program in 2021, the team redesigning the program recognized an opportunity to take a more inclusive approach to hospitality by focusing on the well-being of both guests and employees.
“Employees who feel valued and have opportunities to keep learning and growing are the foundation of true hospitality,” says Carrie Buckley who is Vice President of Image & Style and leader of the team who reinvented WOWS. “So, we decided we wanted to create a highly interactive program that first focuses on cultivating our employees’ self-awareness and empathy, and on building team camaraderie. From there, connecting the dots to creating amazing experiences for our guests is easy.”
The team wrote a new mission statement: “Winning ‘Em Over With Service means every interaction is an opportunity to support our guests’ well-being — helping them feel healthy, happy, and at home,” and structured a highly interactive program around quarterly themes of Positivity, Clarity, Empathy, and Gratitude. Weekly “gamified” activities each feature an inclusion idea designed to either ensure employees’ cultures and perspectives are acknowledged (and celebrated) or to encourage teams to practice how they can be more inclusive of guests. For example, a “You Are the WOW” team building activity encourages employees to write positive things about themselves in either English or their native language on thought bubble props, take a selfie, and then share it with their team. In a “You as a Communicator” activity, employees act out a skit in which a customer approaches a cook that is refilling food on the line and asks them how a dish was prepared, explaining that they have an allergy to dairy. The customer also points to their ear to communicate that they are hearing impaired. Teams act out various responses, rewinding and re-acting out the skit to ensure information is safely and effectively communicated while demonstrating care.
“What I love about WOWS is that we’re building inclusivity into our approach to hospitality in a real and tangible way,” says Liz Baldwin, Chief Administrative Officer. “Our employees are engaging with these ideas on WOWS Wednesdays every week and making a connection between Bon Appétit’s longstanding company values and how we deliver customer service. By showing our teams that we’re committed to including them, and that we understand the value they bring to our company culture, they extend the same inclusive approach to our guests.”