People Report and Black Box Intelligence revealed Thursday the winners of their 2012 Best Practices awards, which honor restaurant companies for exceptional workplace practices and results.
People Report said the honorees were evaluated on their retention of both managers and employees, the diversity of their workforces, compensation practices, and community involvement, corporate responsibility, employee funds and foundations, and initiatives in sustainable business practices.
“These awards are coveted and they are not easily given,” said Joni Thomas Doolin, founder and chief executive of the People Report, at the presentation during the annual People-Profits-Planet conference in Richardson, Texas. “These are not popularity contests; they are quantitatively measured.”
The awards for 2012, with the family and fast-casual segments broken into two separate categories for the first time, included:
Quick service: White Castle. “We get a lot of ideas from everybody out there in the crowd,” said John Kelley, chief people officer. He added later that average White Castle general manager tenure is 19 years. A challenge in human resources in the year ahead is communicating to team members what should be done and what can’t be done, he said.
Casual dining: Longhorn Steakhouse. “It’s really a tribute to the men and women — 24,000 of them — that make a difference every day and the way they treat each other,” said Tom Gathers, senior vice president of human resources. Among innovative programs at Longhorn is an “oak pin” given to those getting high-level promotions that the person in the new position can give to the individual that they believed helped them earn that promotion. “Those are highly sought-after,” Gathers said.
Upscale casual dining: BJ's Restaurants & Brewhouse. “This is an award that is built on the backs of people at BJ’s," said Lon Ledwith, senior vice president of operations and talent development. "It comes from the heart and the individual.”
Family: Eat n' Park Restaurants. Karen Bolden, chief people officer, said, “It’s really about our great operating teams back in the field that keep a smile not only on our guests’ faces but on our team members’ faces as well.” Bolden said that the company seeks out “volunteer champions” from among the staff, and those individuals support the volunteer programs in the individual restaurants and take that burden off the managers.
Fast casual: La Madeleine. Tina Hebert, senior vice president of human resources, said, “We are always thrilled at La Madeleine to be recognized, but when we are recognized for the efforts we have place around our people, we consider there to be no greater accolade.” She said health care reform is one of the largest challenges in the year ahead.
Other finalists for the Best Practices Award this year included: The Capital Grille, Corner Bakery Café, Le Pain Quotidien, K&N Management (a franchisee of Rudy’s BBQ), Maggiano’s Little Italy, McDonald’s, Monical’s Pizza and Red Lobster.
The conference also honored Domino’s Pizza with the Catalyst Award — which goes to a People Report member that outpaces industry norms and improves performance in people practices over the prior year — and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers with the Heart of the Workplace award — which recognizes exemplary practices in community engagement and corporate responsibility.
Dallas-based People Report provides employment analytics for its members on a monthly basis. Its sister company, Black Box Intelligence, provides weekly restaurant industry financial and market data. Together they report on more than 33,000 restaurant units with one million employees.