We got Jamie Oliver to cook for our team

Your employees are on the front line and are given the difficult task to deliver their very best to each and every customer. Are employers doing what they can to show appreciation and recognition? The companies I worked with in the past did amazing things to show their appreciation and have, as a result, generated great loyalty amongst employees and alums. 

I come from a background of companies that do amazing things for team building, and it's one of the values that resonates through our client work and personally for ourselves at Craft House. I believe it's one of the main reason these companies have strong "alumni networks" and ex-colleagues who will stay in touch for years to come.

At Soho House New York, we closed the private members’ club one evening per year and invited all 150-plus employees to enjoy the rooftop pool and club in an all-evening party and formal dinner while all managers worked the floor. We bartended, served poolside cocktails, poured wine, laid napkins and even polished off the pots.In 2005 the team asked if Jamie Oliver could come cook for them, and we made it happen. He was amazingly humble and great to work with in the kitchen. The employees were thrilled. We were thrilled.

These evenings were just one of the many things we did to keep the group upbeat and happy to work with us. I was HR manager at the time, and Mark Somen (now my business partner) was GM, and together we succeeded in being one of the few New York establishments to beat Local 6 in a union petition.

Then I worked with Horwath HTL, where we traveled so much for projects we basically lived out of our suitcases. But the Asia offices were amazing, and each year, for a week or more, we'd go on a company outing to a new destination with families in tow —attending the Pushkar Camel Fair in India; spending a week in Sri Lanka; diving and zip lining at the Great Barrier Reef in Cape Tribulation, Australia; and volunteering in Siem Reap with the Shinta Mani Foundation.

We even had our annual trip during the recession. And although I left the company three years ago, I was still invited to attend the gathering in Bali, where I felt like one of the family.


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Craft House Founder and Director, Yvette Jong, contributes regularly to her HOTELS Magazine Blog titled, "The Good, the Bad and the Funky." Topics of discussion include all aspects of hospitality development, operations, branding, marketing, human resources, sustainability and much more.