A Unique Strategy For Building Employee Morale: Using Camaraderie, Caring & Food

Oct 8, 2020 | Employee Retention, Employees, Leadership

How do you build employee morale, and turn it into a competitive advantage, where your employees fight for your company and brag about working for you?

Sometimes it’s the pay, and sometimes it’s the perks you offer.

But sometimes it’s the love you show.

The following story is going to inspire you to do more. Meet Tami Blanchard, owner of Homestead Landscaping in Vermont. She is a new member of my Leader’s Edge Peer Group, whom I have known for a few years now. In a recent zoom meeting, Tami shared something remarkable with the group about how she was caring for her team.

What she shared blew my mind.

Building Loyalty Using Camaraderie, Caring and Food

Tami began working for Homestead as the bookkeeper years ago, and after seventeen years, her boss offered to sell the company to her. She was already running the business day-to-day, so she jumped at the chance.

The company has since flourished over the ensuing 15 years.

A large part of her success is the care she has for her people.

When the pandemic hit, and PPP money was granted, she decided to supply her employees with a bagged lunch every day. They could no longer stop and pick up lunch, so she made it part of their combat pay, and she personally handed them out each morning.

She found it a great way to connect personally, especially with new hires.

When the stores opened back up 6 weeks later, she told her people to bring their own lunches from now on (no more stopping) and then she pivoted and wowed them with a novel perk.

The Snack Cart at Homestead Landscaping is Famous

Tami introduced a snack cart with water, Gatorade, Red Bull, and snacks like nuts, protein bars and apples and more. Beef jerky, it turns out, is the most requested item.

Tami or someone else drives the snack cart out in the morning and everyone can grab a few things.

The UPS man may hate her for having to deliver huge heavy boxes of Gatorade each week, but her employees love her.

She often tries to buy local and spends around $50-75 per month, per employee on this fun perk.

It has created a real buzz in town and now strangers will even stop by having heard of the snack cart wanting to see it.


More Personal Touches at Homestead Landscaping

  • Tami’s company holds a golf tournament every year; everyone gets paid for the day, and new employees are excited to participate.
  • Tami and her husband Steve (also an owner of Homestead) write personal thank you notes with profit-sharing checks that they pay out each year.
  • She personally makes and serves breakfast a couple of times a year.
  • The company throws a wicked Christmas party each year with spouses invited. She hands out custom goodie bags for employees’ kids and spouses.
  • When it came time to clean up the yard she paid everyone to help out (are you catching a theme here? They “work hard and play hard together”.)

Your Challenge

  1. Spend less time worrying about the next recruit, and spend more energy and money honoring your employees and building your culture, so that others want to work for you.
  2. Improve the ideas you receive from your peers, and then put them into action. Because a good idea is not good until it’s implemented.
  3. Talk to me about joining a peer group if you are not already active, to enhance your ideas, accountability and fun.

P.S. There is nothing better than sharing and growing together! Ask me for more information if you are interested.