Working on the Weekend

 

Blog - Peter Barnes - December 7, 2014

Working on the Weekend

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Camaraderie Prevails Despite Non-Traditional Schedules at These Great Rated! Restaurants
To outsiders, weekend shifts and evening rotations might seem like a tough challenge for companies trying to create a cohesive team. But for select employers in the hospitality business, non-traditional hours pose few roadblocks to a culture where employees feel invested in their jobs and in each other.

At Darden Restaurants, for example, nearly nine in ten say their workplace is consistently friendly. Even with locations spread across the country and many employees working different shifts within individual restaurants, roughly half the workforce pitches in a bit of each paycheck to the Darden Dimes fund that's provided more than $16.5 million to fellow employees in need. Additionally, 83 percent of team members surveyed by Great Rated! say they are proud of the ways their company gives back to the community, including paid volunteer time for employees, grants to nonprofits and local service projects. Other programs that help balance the workplace demands of Darden restaurants like Olive Garden include food discounts, weekly paychecks and a degree of flexibility.

"Managers are very accommodating with schedules. This makes life a lot easier if you ever have emergencies," one employee says. "Everyone treats you like family. This makes work less of a burden and more exciting."

Organizational pride also runs high at Brinker International. Ninety-seven percent of employees say they are proud to tell others they work for Brinker restaurants like Chili's and Maggiano's Little Italy. The company helps cultivate a sense of ownership among its workforce by sending 80 general managers from its top-performing restaurants to a resort for five days, while lower-level managers get bonuses and the company throws parties for their hourly employees. Companywide, salaried team members are eligible for bonuses and profit sharing each year. Plus, team members describe a social atmosphere encouraged by group outings and incentives like gift cards.

"We work very hard to ensure our restaurants have everything they need to provide a great dining experience, and when the work is done we always take time to celebrate and connect with our co-workers," one employee says.

The Cheesecake Factory also seeks out creative ways to help teams socialize and interact outside their day-to-day responsibilities. Individual locations hold prize drawings, host Easter brunch for employees' families and set up Iron Chef-style cooking competitions. Team members post cards calling out co-workers for a job well done on bulletin boards, often earning those individuals gift cards and tickets to sporting events. The company also calls attention to its accomplishments as an employer. Like Darden, a badge on The Cheesecake Factory's careers page attests to its place on Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America. And like Brinker, the company advertises its Great Rated! designation through social media. Research shows that about 45 percent of job seekers investigate potential employers before applying, making it all the more important to provide a behind-the-scenes picture of how the organization supports its people. What's more, a reputation for treating employees well engenders trust among customers.

The Cheesecake Factory also sets itself apart from many in the hospitality industry by offering frequent in-person and online training, including courses administered on tablets in each restaurant. All told, this averages 151 hours of training annually for part-time employees and 327 hours annually for those working full time. As is the case at other outstanding companies, the seven-day-a-week challenges in the hospitality industry are no match for a restaurant employer committed to creating a positive place to work each day.

As one Cheesecake Factory team member puts it, "My work schedule is flexible. My managers are friendly with all the personnel. And my co-workers are cooperative. I feel as part of a family."

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Be sure your talent acquisition teams know how Great Rated! helps support their recruiting efforts! See the best practices examples employers are using to promote their workplace culture in this recorded webinar with Great Rated! CEO Kim Peters and Great Place to Work’s Chris Culkin.

Peter Barnes