Navigating Through COVID-19 Panera Style
Panera Bread is doing a spectacular job as a company when it comes to COVID-19. They have shown commitment not only with their customers but with their employees and communities. Now, this is something not all companies have been able to do as many restaurants are struggling to make ends meet since the pandemic hit in March.
Let’s take a closer look at what Panera is doing
Like many other restaurants, Panera has had to adapt to the local rules established by the government, such as maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. Since looking out for the safety of customers and employees is now a priority for most restaurants.
“Our Panera Family is just that — a family made up of associates, guests and the communities we serve. Panera is here to help provide good, wholesome meals during this challenging time, and the health, safety and overall well-being of our family, and yours, is always our top priority.”
Panera has shown that they care deeply about their employees. Of course, they have implemented safety measures for them as well, such as installations of plexiglass and constant wellness checks. But that is what everyone else is doing, right? So why is Panera different?
An emergency sick day payment was established by the company so that employees get paid for the days they can’t work if they are not feeling well or are diagnosed with COVID-19. There is another program that got implemented in March, to feed the families of the employees that worked in establishments that were directly affected by COVID-19.
Friends in Knead is Panera’s non-profit organization funded by voluntary donations from Panera associates that provides support to their employees when facing hard times. A COVID-19 relief fund was established to support employees facing financial problems and, Panera donated $500,000.
They also offer the General Associate Support program, where employees can seek help from things like mental health resources, legal consults, and financial planning.
“We have been working diligently to honor our belief that good food should be accessible to all, in finding the best way to provide meals to those facing food scarcity during this global health crisis”.
Panera launched the #SeeAPlateFillAPlate Challenge to make consciousness and inspire people to donate to someone in need. Feeding America estimates 17.1 million people will be facing hunger due to the pandemic, adding them to the millions that were already facing this problem. These challenges worked as a campaign to race funds for Together Without Hunger and Feeding America, to provide fresh food to does in need.
Panera has partnered with World Central Kitchen by making donations, offering their kitchens and resources, and creating awareness of the hunger issues that exist in America. They Helped this organization by serving food in critical cities. They also have a partnership with Children’s Hunger Alliance, where the company donates ready-to-eat meals for children in Ohio, and they are planning on escalating the model across the country. They have also donated ingredients, produce, soup, bread, and baked goods to other non-profits.
Other Social Media platforms
I went into Panera’s social media and found all the information related to COVID-19 response on their webpage. They have press releases and articles that include health guidelines, employee programs, and social responsibility actions. However, this is not what they are communicating on other platforms such as Instagram.
Except for their bio, Panera is not communicating or sharing content about the great things that they are doing as a company. They should be communicating their efforts to help employees, communities, and their compromise with social responsibility on all their social media platforms, not just their webpage. First of all, because people care about these things, and they must be informed to be able to share the content. Also, these actions could influence purchase decisions in the future. Maybe someone that is thinking on buying food from a fast-casual restaurant will consider going to Panera because they know about the company’s social responsibility.
Some Final Thoughts
Brands have faced the necessity to be transparent with their customers, to be informative, and to implement a two-way communication. As consumers have all the access to information, and especially in these times of crisis, consumers expect companies to be socially responsible and to do the right thing. In the future, companies will have to communicate even more transparently than ever and will have to demonstrate to customers that they are doing the right thing and that they care for others.
Panera is doing a great job by owning up and taking care of their employees and communities. It is important that companies today have a social responsibility and that they sponsor a cause that is related to their business. Panera is helping feed the hungry and has implemented different programs to do so, even when they are facing hard times as a company.