Culture

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

by David Klemt

Person using Uber app on phone

To better understand how to recruit and retain top talent these days we can simply look at what’s known as the Uber Effect.

We just got back from the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The education was top-notch, featuring a wide range of restaurant industry experts.

One outstanding session illustrates the need for operators—chain and independent—to change their approach to recruiting and retaining staff.

Flexibility in the Workplace

According to Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, people in the labor pool are after three things when seeking employment.

Generally speaking, they want better pay, better benefits, and better scheduling. Gone are the days of people focusing only on their paychecks.

And per Jim Thompson, chief operating officer of Chicken Salad Chick, the Uber Effect is largely responsible for this shift in focus. The Uber Effect refers to people realizing they can be much more in control of their careers.

In simplest terms, Uber drivers are in control of their workdays. They can work as often as they want, whatever hours they want, and wear what they want while working.

Of course, it’s not complete anarchy. There are rules, there are expectations, there are standards. However, there’s also flexibility.

Along with more flexibility in scheduling, people want the following:

  • workload balance;
  • ability to trade shifts;
  • better communication; and
  • paid vacations.

Today’s modern scheduling platforms make it simple for operators and their leadership teams to meet these expectations. With these apps, operators and leadership can:

  • assign specific roles to individual team members;
  • communicate clearly with staff;
  • allow staff to trade, drop, and pick up shifts; and
  • fill available shifts.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Thompson has an interesting anecdote about availability.

A Chicken Salad Chick manager conducting interviews didn’t proceed with a candidate. Asked by Thompson why they wouldn’t be moving forward, the manager pointed to the candidate’s availability.

During the interview, the candidate provided only a single day and the manager felt that wasn’t enough. However, Thompson disagreed with the manager’s assessment.

What if, Thompson posited Thompson, their availability filled a currently open shift? At least there would be one less shift for leadership to worry about.

But it went deeper than just that point. Good operators and leaders know that job interviews aren’t one-way streets. Candidates are also interviewing their potential employer.

What if this candidate provided limited availability because they’re unsure about a particular employer? They may not know the brand all that well, they likely don’t know the leadership team, and they don’t yet understand the workplace’s culture.

As Thompson says, “One size fits all is over.” Operators and their leadership teams need to be flexible.

It’s highly possible that just a few shifts in, if the narrow-availability team member is a good fit and finds the job engaging, they’ll broaden they’re availability.

Developing the Culture

Of course, the above scenario comes down to culture. And Thompson has an interesting thought on that operational element.

If an operator isn’t constantly developing their culture, it will grow stagnant. Maintaining the current culture isn’t good enough.

Failing to do so will ultimately lead to a decline in guest satisfaction. When that happens, a decline in traffic comes along with it.

It’s really rather simple: How an operator and the leadership team treats employees trickles down to guests. Unhappy and unsatisfied staff provide poor service. How long are guests going to tolerate negative guest experiences?

And no, simply offering competitive compensation doesn’t automatically equate to treating staff well.

“Competitive pay, to me, is the cost of entry,” says Thompson.

To this point, the COO, also the self-appointed chief smile officer, addresses how the restaurant chain respects personal time.

Chicken Salad Chick, founded in 2008, is closed on Sundays. This isn’t due to any religious influence. Rather, the founders, per Thompson, were influenced by what they perceived as a high divorce rate in the restaurant space.

So, the brand wants employees to have family time. That’s also why there stores are also closed by 8:00 PM. In some cases, they close at 5:00 or 7:00 PM. Again, personal and family time.

Could they generate more revenue if they opened earlier and closed later? Probably. However, their culture is crucial to their success.

Takeaway

If operators want to begin the process of truly developing a positive workplace culture, there are several questions Thompson suggests operators and their leaders should ask.

Is the brand purpose driven? Does focus on fun, family, and culture?

How can the business offer incremental value to staff? Are the pay and benefits competitive? Is the workplace safe and are their opportunities for staff to advance?

What’s the community like within the four walls? How’s the energy within those walls?

Are the processes and practices in place helping or hindering recruitment and retention? How can the processes be simplified so employees learn what they need to know quickly?

How flexible is the business, honestly? What’s being done to truly help leadership create better relationships with the team?

Finally, I’ll end on something interesting from Grimes. Analyzing employee engagement, SMG has found that isn’t just about compensation.

In fact, when it comes to what makes most people perceive their job as fulfilling, the top influencer is working with people they like. Second is salary and benefits. Third, rewarding work.

Operators need to adapt to employee expectations, just as they need to focus on those of guests. Sitting down with their leadership teams to discuss Thompson’s questions is a great first step toward developing a culture that works and rewards.

Image: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

6 Takeaways from HD Expo 2021

6 Takeaways from HD Expo 2021

by David Klemt

Lobby of Crockfords inside Resorts World Las Vegas

Crockfords lobby inside Resorts World Las Vegas

This year’s Hospitality Design Expo in Las Vegas reveals an industry set to undergo seismic shifts that will reverberate for years to come.

While the pandemic certainly plays a role in transforming the industry, it’s not the only factor.

Here are six major takeaways from HD Expo 2021.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Hospitality—indeed, the world—is in the midst of reckoning with inequality. This is both long overdue and nowhere near complete.

Truthfully, we’re just at the start of the process. There’s much more work to be done.

However, many global hospitality brands and their partners are taking steps to be more equitable. The focus on diversity, equity and inclusion is holistic, spanning C-suites to fronts and backs of house.

Refreshingly, this commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion isn’t limited to hotel and restaurant chains. Smaller, independent operators are also up to the challenge of eschewing long-standing inequalities and toxic norms.

We have a lot more work to do but change is in the air.

Sustainability

Another widespread hospitality industry focus is sustainability. Again, global brands and equipment manufacturers to independent operators and small design firms are seeking to operate more sustainably.

Hotels, resorts, and restaurants are committing to design and operations that lessen their impact on local areas and the globe. Equipment manufacturers are doing the same.

While a smaller show this year, the HD Expo floor featured several exhibitors proudly pursuing LEED and other environmentally-friendly certifications.

Certainly, the hospitality industry has been focusing on sustainability, “going green,” and responsible operations for a few years. From what we saw at HD Expo 2021, the desire for sustainability and environmental design is only going to grow stronger.

Return to Nature

Intriguingly, many designers and boutique operators are changing how we think about resorts. Airstreams and intimate cabins that encourage guests to recharge and reconnect with nature are on the rise.

For example, Getaway intends their guests to disconnect and immerse themselves in nature. Ideally, a guest won’t even consider bringing electronic devices and trying to work or spend any time on their phone.

A quick exploration of the Getaway website makes the brand’s mission clear. Slides have titles such as “Getaway from Nashville” and “Getaway from Chicago.” The navigation bar lists Getaway locations under the heading “Escape From.”

Conversely, there’s Yonder. This resort in Escalante (more locations are on the way) also wants guests to disconnect. However, they do offer WiFi and aren’t about escaping from the world.

Rather, Yonder encourages guests to engage with one another. The Escalante property features a communal clubhouse and robust food and beverage program. A massive hot tub spans the length of the pool. There are no showers in the Airstreams or cabins—guests commune with nature when they bathe.

Of course, more traditional hotels and resorts, along with restaurants and bars, are also embracing the outdoors.

In terms of this design change, one can certainly draw a straight, well-defined line from the pandemic to outdoor spaces. Leveraging outdoor areas continues to be one of the most common solutions for navigating and surviving mandates and public health recommendations.

Nearly every panel discussion at HD Expo 2021 at least made a passing mention of maximizing the usage of outdoor spaces. Clearly, this isn’t a design trend—this change is here to stay.

Guest Tech

Increasingly, hotels and some restaurant brands are going out of their way to allow guests to control their stays through technology.

Want to order room service? A few clicks of your phone make that possible. Not completely comfortable? Adjust temperatures, lights, drapes and shades digitally.

From check-in to check-out, a guest can essentially control every aspect of their visit via the little device in their pocket.

This is, in part, a response to the pandemic. It’s also about adapting quickly to shifting guest needs and desires.

Hotel, resort, restaurant and bar, and entertainment venue guests are skewing ever younger. And each successive generation is ever-more technologically savvy.

If something can be handled via phone or tablet quickly and conveniently, a significant percentage of guests feel it should be handled that way.

Additionally, smart increases in tech implementation speak to another guest expectation: If they’re accustomed to having something from home, they want it at hotels and resorts as well.

In fact, Lee Shuman, vice president of construction and design for Peachtree Hotel Group, says guest expectation is impacting hotel pools. According to Shuman, pools “seem to be falling to the wayside” in favor of larger, better-equipped health centers.

Of course, this another change partly fueled by the pandemic. More and more people are focusing on their health. People are working out more and expect hotels and resorts to provide them with convenient ways to work out when away from home.

After all, a hotel is intended to be a home away from home.

Local Culture

As trends, locality and hyper-locality are growing stronger and stronger. Interestingly, a focus on local culture is impacting all areas of hospitality, not just F&B.

Several hotel, resort and design groups spoke to the importance of embracing locals in as many ways as possible.

Hotel and resort owners and groups are retaining the services of local designers. In turn, those designers influence exterior architecture, interior design, artwork, and a specific project’s color theory.

Who better, after all, to ensure a property fits within the landscape and speaks to locals? It’s only logical to work with local designers and artists—they’re immersed fully in a location and and its culture.

Local artists and artisans also imbue a property with its personality. They also help to attract local support.

We expect more hotel and resort groups to focus on differentiating one property in their portfolio from the next. Indeed, there are groups with portfolios wherein every property is unique.

F&B Focus

It’s fair to say that, traditionally speaking, many hotel groups treated their F&B programming almost as an afterthought. In fact, some groups made it clear F&B was unimportant to them.

That’s changing.

Locality and hyper-locality are permeating F&B programs, and hotels, guests and locals are better for it.

It’s no longer uncommon to find local food items, beer, spirits, wine, and soft drinks on hotel restaurant and room service menus.

The pursuit of the local is very real and very effective. Locals are encouraged by some hotel operators to work, relax, play, dine and eat at their properties. In fact, many groups seek to make their hotels and resorts a part of everyday life for locals.

Interestingly, hyper-locality isn’t new to today’s restaurant operator. We expect this “trend” to gain a stronger foothold throughout the hospitality industry.

Image: Crockfords / Resorts World Las Vegas

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Establishing a Gratitude Culture

Establishing a Gratitude Culture

by Jennifer Radkey

Thank you neon sign

In a busy world, and what sometimes seems to be an even busier industry, when do we stop to allow time for gratitude? And why should we?

The hospitality industry is built on the premise of providing a welcoming, friendly environment to guests. There have been countless articles written upon how to provide our guests with a positive and memorable experience.

Most of us are very aware of the need to thank our guests for their loyalty through customer appreciation programs, etc. We train our staff on the importance of thanking guests, ensuring that they will choose to visit our establishment again in the future.

To have a successful hospitality establishment our gratitude needs to go deeper than that. We don’t need to just thank our guests, we need to establish a culture of gratitude within our team; and it starts at the top.

Why Gratitude

Gratitude has been found to build stronger relationships, increase helping behaviours, improve quality of sleep, and just improve our overall well-being.

Martin P. Seligman, a psychologist at Penn State University, is one of the leading and founding psychologists in the field of Positive Psychology. His PERMA model dictates what well-being consists of: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Good Relationships, Meaning and Purpose, and Achievement/Accomplishment.

There are obviously many ways in which to achieve the five different components of PERMA, but one of the key character strengths that contributes to all of them is gratitude.

Why should we take on the responsibility of establishing gratitude within our team culture? Well, when you feel good about yourself you are more likely to share skills with others. You can be motivated to work harder and in turn inspire those around you to do so as well.

A team that feels appreciated and learns to be grateful for each other and for the opportunities and experiences the job affords them, is a team that will more likely stick together; support each other; work through problems more effectively; show compassion; embrace differences and creativity; and generally be stronger.

It Starts with You

So, how do we go about establishing a gratitude practice in our workplace? To do that you need to start with yourself.

People are smart—they can sense “fake” gratitude. It needs to be genuine. For some people, gratitude comes naturally; it is one of their character strengths. For others, expressing thanks may feel awkward, so gratitude needs to be practiced daily to build this skill.

Start by taking five minutes at the end of the day before you fall asleep and write down three good things that happened to you that day, and why they happened. Seligman calls this the Three Blessings activity.

Try this for a few weeks. Once you start taking just a few minutes each day to think about what went well, you will naturally find yourself seeking out and recognizing the good things in the moment.

The How

Once you feel comfortable expressing gratitude, it’s time to share with your team and watch the magic happen!

There are countless ways of establishing a gratitude practice in your team culture. One simple way to start is to call team members out on the great stuff they do and genuinely thank them for it.

Example: There is a particularly challenging guest who is upset and taking out their frustrations on one of your servers. Your server remains poised and offers various solutions to ease the guest’s frustration, in turn diminishing what could have been an ugly scene. You then approach your server afterwards and express thanks for the way the situation was handled.

Be specific in your praise and be genuine in your gratitude. Your server will go from feeling potentially upset or stressed about the situation to feeling good about themselves for how they handled it. And you will feel grateful for having such a responsible and stellar employee. Win-win situation.

A Grateful Team

Besides taking the time to notice and be outwardly grateful for the small things your team members do daily to contribute to the success of your vision and business, there are team-building gratitude activities you can initiate.

Try setting up a “Thanks for Being Awesome” board, either a physical one in a back room/staff room or an online one where team members can write quick thank-you notes to each other and post them.

“Thanks for taking my shift so I could take care of my sick mom.”

“Thank you for making me laugh with that ridiculous joke the other night!”

“Thanks for teaching me that new bartending flair trick!”

A team who is thankful for each other is a team who will build each other up, and in turn build up your business and revenue.

Silver Linings

Team meetings are an easy place to insert a gratitude practice. During the team meeting insert a “silver linings” activity.

Have team members discuss things that did not go well that week and then brainstorm together the “silver lining” from the situation. Maybe a new menu item was introduced and did not receive positive feedback. Perhaps there was a blow out between two team members when they didn’t agree on something, Maybe the new hire came for the first few scheduled shifts and then quit.

Whatever the bad situation was, what good thing came from it and what was learned from it that could make the team and business stronger? By looking for the good things in bad situations it enables us to be grateful for growth opportunities.

Building a culture of gratitude within your team can be as creative as you like, and there is no “one size fits all.” If one practice doesn’t work, try another. From team events and outings, to weekly gratitude emails, to shout-outs on your social media page, the possibilities are endless.

It is a small and simple change with little to no cost, and when it comes down to it…it just feels good. Here’s to personal and professional well-being! Cheers!

Image: Gratisography on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership: The Other 10-second Rule

Leadership: The Other 10-second Rule

by David Klemt

Watch face showing seconds and minutes

Those who remember last week’s Friday post will recall that there’s more than one 10-second rule.

Interestingly, this “other” rule also relates to communication.

As we all know, communication is paramount to leading teams and building relationships with others.

Last Week’s Rule

Deceptively simple, last week’s 10-second rule focuses on easing tensions.

If a situation is about to boil over or is already out of control, going silent for 10 seconds can cool things off.

First, shutting up for ten seconds stops the argument cold. Second, it provides time for the person leveraging this tactic to respond rationally.

Third, it humanizes the other person. Rather than seeing an opponent, the person going quiet for ten seconds remembers that this is a team member they’re engaging.

Finally, people who use this rule say going silent tends to snap the other party out of their hostility.

Treating others with respect and dignity, along with encouraging open communication and a free flow of ideas, are hallmarks of a healthy workplace culture.

This Week’s Rule

There are, of course, similarities between this week’s rule and last week’s. Obviously, they both call for a ten-second “timeout” to talking.

Also, they both focus on humanizing the other person in the conversation.

I came across the other 10-second rule on the Accounting Today website. Accountant and author Kyle Walters writes that his rule is also simple: If Walters talks for ten consecutive seconds during a client meeting, he stops to ask an open-ended question. Crucial to the process is that Walters then gives the person answering time to talk.

Now, while Walters applies this to client meetings, it’s useful for conversation in general. As he points out, it breaks the bad habits of dominating conversations; giving off the impression that you’re selfish and don’t care about the others in conversations; and not listening to others.

Anyone who leads a team; needs to develop relationships with suppliers, distributors, contractors, investors, banks, inspectors, etc.; and wants to build relationships with guests knows that listening is crucial.

Sure, ten seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time. However, take the time to actually see how many thoughts you can fire off in ten seconds. You’ll see how much talking for that “small” amount of time can quickly seem domineering if you don’t stop to include others in the conversation.

There’s also the “small” detail that you’re not having a conversation if you’re not listening—you’re just delivering a speech…and it’s probably not a good one.

It takes work to break bad habits. However, the benefit to your personal growth, leadership abilities, and business are worth the effort.

Image: Agê Barros on Unsplash

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