According to the People Report Workforce Index, which measures market pressures on restaurant employment, it’s becoming more challenging for restaurants to recruit and retain qualified hourly and management candidates as job growth continues and other industries, such as education and health care, increasingly tap into the same labor pool as restaurants. Some thoughts:
Cameron Mitchell, founder, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, says, “I believe today’s employees still want the same things they always did – a great work environment, where they’re well compensated, and well treated.” He says wages for their hourly associates are very competitive and managers’ salaries are in the top quarter, with many in the top 10% compared to national industry standards. “Taking care of our people – giving them days off and helping them cover shifts, for example – enhances longevity, loyalty, and the sense that ‘I can make a career with this company.’” Cameron reports that 85% of management ranks are filled by the promotion of hourly associates.
Niki Leondakis, president/coo, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Group, (the highest-rated hospitality company on Fortune’s 2012 list of “100 Best Companies to Work For”), says employees have higher expectations for the companies they work for today. “Employees want to learn and grow, and add to their skill sets to increase their overall marketability.” She says they hire people for who they are, not just for what they’ve done. “We’re looking for people who have self-awareness and a commitment to their own growth, those who want to better themselves as human beings. In interviews we ask, ‘What are you working on developing in yourself?’” Sylvia Doggett-Jones, vp of culture and inclusion, Darden (also on the 2012 Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” list), says employees want meaningful work today. “They want to know about our sustainability efforts and what our goals are, how we contribute to their communities, and how we’re focusing on health and wellness for our guests – and they want to be involved.” Paul Bolles-Beaven, chief people officer, Union Square Hospitality Group, says “The integrity with which a company does business today – being ethical, a ‘good citizen’ – really appeals to the current workforce. Since people want to contribute and be creative, their engagement with their work – and with our company – is huge.”