The opportunities and challenges of the social media world can be felt uniquely by restaurant human resource departments as questions surrounding employee satisfaction as well as brand management sometimes butt heads.
According to executives gathered in Dallas this week for the People Report Summer Camp, corporate goals, social media usage and employee engagement can actually work together to serve common missions.
“Find what is important to your organization and figure out how to include social media to help achieve that goal,” James Fripp, senior director of global diversity and inclusion at Yum! Brands Inc. said. “Work that angle.”
For Fripp, that goal is diversity and inclusion on a broader level than just race or gender. He is tasked with creating a diverse workforce at Louisville, Ky.-based Yum that also includes diversity of human experiences, which can shed various shades of light on corporate decision-making. He highlighted how various employees – younger and older, social media savvy or not – can learn new tools to help communicate and contribute.
“Social media plays a huge role in diversity,” he said. “One of the biggest gaps we have today is diversity of thought, experiences and capabilities.
“It can be very difficult for an organization that has been traditionally conservative to be OK with that, but diversity of skill sets will be what moves our business forward,” he said.
At Yum-owned Taco Bell, the chain is actively using social media to keep employees engaged, recruit new team members and foster a sense of community that will aid brand perception. The chain recently implemented both internal and external social media efforts to help foster a strong chain and brand culture. Six months into the project, which includes an internal social media network for employees and external recruiting efforts, the results will be judged by whether a stronger brand community is developed.
“Measuring [return on investment] on social media is almost impossible,” Avery Block, social engagement and brand champion at Taco Bell Corp. “The ROI will be about brand ambassadors helping to build your brand.
“It’s not about quantity, I don’t focus on how many followers or fans we have, it’s about ensuring we’re providing quality content … and building champions for our brand, people who want to work for us … we’re at a point where employees and consumers are the same.”
At People Report Summer Camp:
Joni Doolin, founder and chief executive of the People Report, said younger employees, especially in the Y Generation ages of 16 years old to 30 years old, are harder to reach, with many relying on phone text messaging and social media. “Many don’t even have an email address,” she said.
Michael Harms, senior business analyst with the People Report, said cost of turnover has dropped significantly since the recession started in 2007. Average turnover costs for each hourly employee is now $716, about half of what it was before the recession, and the turnover cost for each manager has slipped to $10,974, about a third less than before the recession, Harms said.
Jason Seiden, author of “How to Self-Destruct” and co-founder of Ajax Social Media in Chicago, urged attendees to meld their business and personal lives and work to change their organizations from within. “You can’t convince leaders to be enlightened,” he said.
Anne Varano, senior vice president for human resources and communications for Carlson Restaurants, suggested attendees get their employees to participate in social media like Twitter and Facebook. “Why is it OK to let your customers talk about your brand [on social media], but not your employees?” she asked.
Bill Streitberger, vice president of human resources at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc., discussed what is keeping HR execs up at night – the government. He covered health care and immigration reform as well as unionization efforts and paid sick leave. Speaking on the various changes occurring today, he told attendees: “This is a train coming down the track. We can figure out how to deal with it or get run over.”
Carlton Curtis, vice president of industry affairs, foodservice and hospitality, Coca-Cola and chair of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, reminded attendees that foodservice is battling with other industries to secure tomorrow’s workers. “The industry doesn’t have the reputation it needs to give it a fighting chance to find the next great workers,” he said. “But as soon as someone sees all of the opportunities, the breadth of opportunities, you can’t help but be drawn to it.”
Ron Ruggless contributed to this report.