APA Center for Organizational Excellence: National Winner

The Awards

Small For-Profit Category

Tasty Catering

Serving Up a Healthy Workplace

Illinois – In 2006, Chicago-area Tasty Catering switched from a command- and-control management hierarchy to a culture-based leadership model. An employee-run council developed company culture statements articulating core values, a core purpose and other key concepts that are posted in English and Spanish throughout company premises. Tasty Catering’s strong culture has eliminated the need for managers and concentrates on building leaders instead.

Employee Involvement

At Tasty Catering, every employee is entitled to know what is going on in the business. The company’s newsletter, Inside the Dish, appears every Friday and covers the organization’s cash position, the week’s news, praise and appreciation, plans for the upcoming week and sales comparisons to the same period the previous year. At staff lunches on Wednesdays, employees participate in activities that encourage financial transparency and individual involvement.

Health and Safety

Throughout its 22 years in business, and with more than 30,000 events in just the last three years, Tasty Catering has earned an exemplary safety record. Because food safety is the most important issue it faces, the firm employs more than 30 culinarians who are state-certified food sanitation experts. Consequently, the company has never had a substantiated food-borne illness incident. Keeping an eye on safety, all staff members are specifically trained for their department’s equipment with crew leaders receiving a mandatory safety training review annually.

Employee Growth and Development

Pro-education all the way, Tasty Catering operates its own in-house Tasty Catering University offering five “majors” including business, English, sales, food science and professional development. In 2013, each employee was required to log 40 hours of company-sponsored courses and workshops such as “How We Do That,”“The Greening of Tasty Catering,”“Generation Integration” and “Finance Basics,” among many others. Moreover, the company pays for all professional certification, licenses and course work for everyone from chefs to sales staff, executives and special event planners.

Work-Life Balance

The company supports its philosophy of work-life balance in multiple ways. Tasty Catering’s Logistics Director sees to it those who wish to worship on Saturday or Sunday mornings can do so without a scheduling conflict. As Tasty Catering’s owners come from a family of 11 children, they know the value of family and have put policies into place to support this. The company acknowledges that family emergencies do occur and, as such, are sufficient reason to leave work or take time off with no penalty.

Employee Recognition

Tasty Catering’s newsletter is the means by which employees and team members praise and support one another beyond the confines of their individual departments. Furthermore, the company regularly celebrates its staff through work anniversaries, spontaneous praise and recognition and offsite quarterly parties. The company turns work anniversaries into special occasions at lunch on the third Wednesday of every month, where honorees get to design their own menu, the company presents them with a $50 check for each year worked and colleagues share stories about the honoree’s positive contributions.

The Bottom Line

The primary benefit of clearly articulated company policies is that staff members know exactly what is expected of them. They know they will always be treated with respect. They enjoy freedom with responsibility as it relates to their job and function. They know they have flexibility to meet family needs as they arise. And their efforts are regularly rewarded. For Tasty Catering, the benefits of such a culture go well beyond job satisfaction. In addition to high staff morale, last year’s business showed a 14 percent rise in sales and a 117 percent increase in profits.

"We have always known that the key to our success is the way we care about our fellow workers. Winning this award is a welcome confirmation that we are on the right track."

Ken Golder
Holiday Inn River Centre