4 Steps to Engage Your Team to Reduce Food Waste

One of the key components of a successful waste prevention campaign is a strong team open to new ideas. Engaging your staff effectively and integrating food waste prevention into their work decisions are critical in driving productivity and profitability. If the collective buy-in of the team members is strong, your waste reduction efforts will pay off quickly.

Food waste tracking and reduction companies, like Winnow, have worked with hundreds of kitchens and learned a lot throughout the waste journey. Working in a kitchen is often hard work, and Winnow’s approach is to motivate and enthuse rather than lecture and order. We’ve learned along the way, and have developed a simple four stage process which we call "The 4 A’s of staff engagement:: Awareness, Accountability, Action and Award.

  • Awareness - The best method to raise awareness is inspiring people to find those points within the food waste agenda that interests everyone in the kitchen staff. Everyone has different motivations on why we care about food waste, whether it’s environmental, economic or social. Talk to your team and ask them what’s important to them.

  • Accountability - Creating a sense of accountability and ownership within your team is necessary to sustainably drive change. You can’t be in the kitchen all the time so you need to delegate responsibility.

For example, let someone volunteer or select a leader to choose a number of ‘waste champions’ from the kitchen and front of house staff, who are engaged and passionate about reducing food waste and will be able to champion the project when the leaders are not present. Get the team to work together to agree on targets to reduce food waste.

Whatever way you decide to measure food waste, make sure that you agree on what success looks like with your team rather than imposing quotas or targets; they’ll be more inspired to try and meet their own targets rather than those that are enforced

  • Action - Once you have agreed on what success looks like it’s time to begin making changes to reduce waste. Brainstorm possible food waste reduction techniques such as batch preparation, effective peeling, using smaller cooking pots and freezing prepared items with your team.

  • Award - The best way to gain the attention of the staff is positive reinforcement. Your staff needs to know that their hard work has resulted in something tangible so share your success with your team. Consider posting positive results on the team notice board, make food waste a daily talking point in your team meetings, or celebrate with a small treat. This way staff can feel that the project is not only achievable but fun as well.

Of course all kitchens work differently and there is not a model that fits all. There will always be staff members who might be nervous about introducing or accepting a change, but once the benefits become obvious, and more staff become involved, the process will become more and more ingrained into the culture of the team. Download the guide to get our top tips you can put to work straight away to engage your kitchen team to reduce food waste.

Blog written by Erna Klupacs at Winnow, a food waste management business that believes food is far too valuable to waste, and that technology can transform the way we use food.