Make no mistake about it; the restaurant industry is in the middle of a workforce revolution.
Calls for $15 minimum wages are being met in various states and counties, there is a lack of working teenagers entering the industry and there is data showing that recruiting and retention pressures among restaurant human resources professionals are at the highest levels in at least 10 years.
These new workforce pressures will require more than short-term fixes, but instead, a completely new approach to employee engagement — an approach that requires companies to meet employee needs rather than viewing the workforce as a cost center.
Instead of outlining all of the issues the restaurant industry is facing, Nation’s Restaurant News took a deep dive into solutions that companies can use to build a great workplace. Employees want better answers to three important aspects of their jobs — the pay they collect, the benefits they receive and the culture that they work within.
It is not an exaggeration to say that employees today are looking for a company they love, one they can grow with and that values their contributions. It is a broader cultural change, and it is not affecting just the restaurant industry, but all workplaces. A connection to a company culture is rapidly becoming one of the largest driving factors in career decisions.
There are many companies in the restaurant industry that are doing it right. Nation’s Restaurant News took a look at three companies we feel are great examples of new efforts around employee engagement — Shake Shack, Chili’s and Starbucks. Within these case studies, you will find solutions worthy of stealing and business hacks that can help you implement new ideas. We also provide a look at companies outside the restaurant industry that are successfully building enlightened workplaces.
Unit economics are not lost here. A company can’t be 100 percent about culture and love. Businesses need to make profits and workforces should continue to be valued on merit, work ethic and value to the business.
Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, famously said, “Profit is not a dirty word … Profit in business means expansion, growth and opportunities. … Profit means success, and success means sharing with others.”
There are more than 14 million people in the foodservice industry workforce and today they need to and will be heard.
The companies that build new approaches to employee engagement will win the workplace, and build perhaps the most important differentiator of any competitive environment — a winning team.