By Lauren Bifulco

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Economic experts state that at least 70 percent of our economy is based on hourly jobs and the restaurant industry employment is now 13.1 million employees strong and growing every year. Most of the hourly jobs within our industry interact in some way, shape or form with your customers; whether it be the first person a customer sees when they walk into your restaurant or the person in charge of the quality of the food brought out from the kitchen. Hourly workers impact our businesses in all channels: turnover (labor costs), food quality (food costs), and experience (brand and customer retention). Bottomline: hourly workers can make or break your business. They are also one of the largest assets within our industry and it’s about time we learned how to interact with them.

At Brand Camp, we were able to hear from the frontline directly through a panel of hourly workers local to the Dallas region (to see an amazing summary of this panel, check out the NRN article here). Their experiences, suggestions and remarks were not foreign to me – Snagajob runs annual surveys to learn about hourly job seeker hourlybehaviors and opinions about the restaurant industry and beyond – yet the impact their voices had on the room was astounding. I put together a list of the four things I hope that executives, hiring managers and campers took away from the panel:

1. Hire right and treat them right, these folks impact your bottom line everyday. One of the panelists, Dylan, realized early in his career that he’s in the people business, not the bar business. The personal interactions between hourly employees and customers are a key part of bringing guests back. Workers want to engage with guests, as 77 percent of job seekers choose restaurant jobs to work directly with customers (Snagajob survey, 2013). Your staff actively wants to create amazing guest experiences and is often choosing the restaurant industry for this type of opportunity.

2. Provide opportunities for growth to your best players, or they will leave. Fact. Many of the panelists had experienced growth opportunities within their current companies and throughout their tenure in the industry. They discussed the value that having “been there, done that” lauren2brings to a manager’s experience and how relatable it makes a manager. According to the Snagajob survey, 75 percent of job seekers left their jobs voluntarily and 21 percent of those cited that opportunity for advancement and growth was the main reason.

3. Listen to what matters, it’s not what you think and it could be different for everyone. Another panelist, Christina, discussed how the restaurant industry is attractive with flexible schedules and the ability for managers is to be compassionate about their employees’ lives outside of work. Many hourly workers juggle multiple jobs, school, a family and a life of their own – something we often forget. According to a Snagajob survey, the three most important attributes for a job are flexible hours, location, and pay. Mindblown right? Even crazier is that the brand of the restaurant was only important to 28 percent of respondents. Paying attention to scheduling needs is key for your employees’ satisfaction.

4. Treat your staff like people, not business assets. Treating people like people happens to be something that is harder than it sounds. A theme throughout many of the panel remarks was that recognition is great, but the meaning behind the recognition is the most important part. The number one way a job seeker wants to be rewarded, if it’s not through a pay raise, is with training or personal development opportunities (Snagajob survey, 2014). Treat staff how you’d like to be treated and give them the resources to succeed. Take time to create the family environment that many workers love about the restaurant industry.

A special Brand Camp THANK YOU to the hourly worker:

https://youtu.be/z6RQEmFUx6s?list=PLRpcN_c6RAKMx5kqgpb8Utd3tXzsGIQYR