Laura Burgess with team members at Manchester High School for Girls

Flipping marvellous - Laura gets stuck in

Published on : 5/9/19
  • Sodexo’s Back to the Floor programme gives senior managers the chance to get a better understanding of the great work front line teams do on any given day. It also gives the teams and opportunity to share any ideas for improvement and challenges they may face.

    In February, Laura Burgess, HR director for Sodexo Schools & Universities, went back to the floor at Manchester High School for Girls.

    Laura shares her experience and what she learnt on her working visit.

    “On Shrove Tuesday (otherwise known as Pancake Day!), the Sodexo team at Manchester High School for Girls invited me to do a shift in their shoes as part of the Back to the Floor programme.

    “I was asked to help out by becoming a catering assistant for the day and was immediately asked to work the tills to make sure all of the food was recorded on the system using the children’s pre-paid cards. Maggie, who has worked at the school for nearly 30 years, took me under her wing and showed me how to work the till.

    “Once break time hit there were hundreds of hungry children needing refuelling in a very short space of time. After a few goes of doing it together, we were getting the queue moving. Maggie was a brilliant and patient trainer – thank you for all your help Maggie! As we worked, she told me she loved her job even after all these years. When I asked her why, she explained that she has three different jobs at the school; her catering job, a cleaning job (also with Sodexo) and a job on the school bus looking after children on their journeys.

    Laura Burgess and Maggie

    Pictured: Laura (right) and Maggie (left) working hard at Manchester High School for Girls

    “Maggie explained how she felt that she was directly part of enriching the children’s lives through her work. She also mentioned that the onsite teams were often some of the first who might notice that something is not quite right with a child and that it would be raised with school staff members straight away. I know that many times the vigilance of Sodexo teams has helped spot issues and helped to ultimately resolve them. This overarching contribution to the children’s lives was Maggie’s purpose at work and why she loves her job.

    “Having an individual and team purpose is what drives many people in their jobs and makes them value their contribution – the meaning, the impact and the why.

    “As the day continued, I was working with more of the team including Andreas, an enthusiastic and passionate apprentice chef. It was great to know that the team were investing time into having an apprentice. I see apprentices as an investment for Sodexo, themselves, the school, and the future of our industry. Sodexo’s apprenticeship qualifications aren’t just for those starting out but are available to people who already work for us and of all ages. The qualifications can be taken at different levels and subjects, from chef skills, hospitality, retail, FM management and more. If you are a Sodexo employee and want to learn something new, please talk to your manager to explore the opportunities.

    I am delighted to know that Sodexo’s message that Health and Safety comes first is reaching everyone. This is resulting in fewer people having accidents at work and it means that the welfare of our people is a priority for us.

    “Once lunchtime arrived, I was busy helping to serve pancakes to the younger children with cream and chocolate sauce and hotdogs and fries to the older ones – I tried to get them to try the greens that were on offer too!

    “When I visit our onsite teams, I always ask about the Sodexo Health and Safety culture and whether the business takes a serious approach, and consistently the answer is “yes”. It was clear when serving lunch that the team at Manchester took the same level of accountability for safety as every other Sodexo site I have visited. The team’s views are that Sodexo genuinely takes Health and Safety more seriously than other companies they’ve worked for – not one person has said “no” and I’ve asked a lot of people!

    “I am delighted to know that Sodexo’s message that Health and Safety comes first is reaching everyone. This is resulting in fewer people having accidents at work and it means that the welfare of our people is a priority for us. I want to thank everyone for taking responsibility for their own safety and the team around them. Always remember the ‘3 Checks for Safety’; if the answer to any of them is “no”, stop what you are doing and tell your manager.

    “My personal experience of the day was a very humbling one and made me appreciate our onsite teams even more. The Back to the Floor programme helped me learn what makes our frontline staff tick and how the Schools & Universities senior leadership can help improve their lives and optimise the service we offer.

    “A massive thanks to the team in Manchester for having me and helping me to get a feel for what your day looks like. I enjoyed it and learned a lot in a short time. Maggie said to me that she really hopes Sodexo stays with Manchester High School for Girls for a long time to come, and so do I!”

    Feature image pictured: Maggie (left), Laura (centre) and Andreas (right)

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