The Key to Everyone’s Success: Celebrating Our Incredible Teams

Published on : 4/26/24
  • About the authors: Mark Watkins and Moses DeBord 


    If there’s one thing the last few years have shown us, it’s that nothing can replace genuine human connection. Whether it’s spending time with friends or just seeing familiar smiling faces as we grab coffee each morning, the value of human interaction cannot be overstated.  

    College campuses are a great example of this. Research shows that students crave the sense of connection they get from being on campus and interacting with peers, faculty, and staff members.  

    Sodexo’s frontline employees are the heart of everything we do on campus. They provide the warm smiles, daily chats, and personal touches that help students feel like they belong. Our campus employees are integral members of the campus community who are deeply committed to students’ success and well-being, and they’re the most important element of our business. 

    Showing Our Appreciation 

    We encourage our managers to show appreciation to their teams regularly by calling out exemplary work and recognizing employees in meaningful ways. Once a year, we take this idea to the next level when we celebrate National Employee Appreciation Day, an annual event that offers an opportunity to continue recognizing the incredible work our people do on campus each day.

    “Thank you for recognizing our hard work and dedication. This encouragement makes a difference, and we're happy to be part of such a supportive team!” 

    — Shunquetta Tompkins, Dining Supervisor, University of Alabama at Birmingham 

    More than 260 campuses across North America participated in this year’s National Employee Appreciation Day celebration in March. We came together to make the day special for more than 18,000 Sodexo employees with exciting on-site events, prizes, food and drinks, and more. Many supervisors recognized staff members with handwritten notes, individual conversations, and fun team activities. Leaders at all levels of Sodexo shared personal messages of gratitude for our employees, letting them know how much we value them and the work they do.

    Meet the People Making an Impact on Campus 

    As leaders, we love visiting campuses and learning about some of the incredible campus employees who come to work each day ready to support students and create positive experiences for everyone they encounter. 

    For example, Shellie Letourneau is a cook who has been serving University of Vermont students for 38 years. She embodies friendliness and warmth, striving to get to know students personally. She always finds time to connect with people on campus, even as she prepares food for more than 1,000 hungry students every morning at Harris Mills Dining Hall.

    “Thank you for coming in every day and giving your all. You’re the heart and souls of our operation, and we thank you for that!”   

    — Sam Ramos, Dining General Manager, Lynn University 

    At Arkansas State University, cashier Paulette Gilton loves interacting with the students and faculty who visit the dining hall each day. She greets students by name whenever she can, and she often chats with them about their families or classes. After 26 years at the university, she is well known on campus as someone who brightens everyone’s day with her friendly, personable demeanor.

    Titus Tapua has supervised front-of-house operations at Seattle Pacific University for four years. He joined Sodexo 15 years ago. Titus brings a unique positive energy to his team every day, helping colleagues stay motivated and focused on student satisfaction. He also has a warm smile and a friendly greeting for everyone who enters the dining hall, ensuring students, faculty, and staff always feel welcome and seen.  

    The Most Important Ingredient in the Recipe for Success 


    These are just a few examples of the thousands of frontline team members who make a meaningful impact on the lives of students, faculty, and staff each day. We’re proud to have so many dedicated, passionate employees on our teams, and we enjoy finding opportunities to recognize the vital work they do. We even get students involved in showing their appreciation with our thx:) program, which makes it easy to recognize a college dining employee or facilities management team member for providing exceptional service. It's part of our Experiences Matter Customer Service Training program, which was recognized as a 2024 Gold Winner in the Stevie Awards

    Our people are the key to our success as an organization and a critical component of students’ campus experience. We’re committed to ensuring they know how valuable they are to our company and the communities they serve by frequently expressing gratitude for their work.

    “Thank you for being so kind and welcoming! You deserve to be celebrated.” 

    — Student, Massachusetts College of Art and Design