Walk by or into a restaurant, and chances are you’ll see help wanted signs posted in the front window and even in the bathrooms. Ask anyone you know who is in business what their biggest challenge is, and most likely, they’ll tell you they can’t find staff. The war for talent is real, and organizations are beginning to grow weary of going to battle every day. Sound familiar?
My advice to you is to stop into Mamaleh’s in Cambridge, MA (and soon to be in Brookline), have a bowl of matzo ball soup, and watch how a small operation gets things done. Who knows, you might even learn a thing or two, starting here.
Simplicity rules. Here’s a recent job posting that says it all. Nice Person to Make Sandwiches! $17/hr!
I have to tell you. I was tempted to apply. I mean, heck, I make sandwiches at home for my family all the time, and I’ve never even received a tip. But I digress.
The posting continues with, “We like nice, honest, hardworking, personable people!! If you think this describes you, keep reading!” Followed by a host of great benefits (which we’ll talk about more) and job requirements that make no mention of years of experience or the standard ability to lift up to 25 pounds that are usually found in restaurant job descriptions. Bottom line: the only barrier to entry is the need to be nice.
Now compare this posting to your job notices for entry-level workers. Is it this simple, or are you discouraging people from even applying?
Putting your money where your mouth is. Big Dipper Hospitality, which owns Mamaleh’s, is on a mission to disrupt the inherent injustices in the tipped model of the hospitality industry and is doing so in a big way. They aren’t just talking about pay inequity. They’re doing something about it and are letting prospective candidates know their position on equitable pay.
The company has enacted A 20 percent administrative fee to each bill and distributes these funds across the restaurant’s employees (excluding ownership). The service fee is dividing equally between workers regardless of whether they’re working in the front or the back of the house, thereby decreasing the current wage gap between tipped and non-tipped positions. (Note: tipping at this restaurant is not expected.) With this model, employees are projected to make $3-$5 per hour over their base pay in their paycheck. All employees are guaranteed to make a minimum of $17/hour, even if additional money must come out of the owner’s pocket.
Most restaurants here in the U.S. don’t operate this way, which may explain why every time you go into a restaurant, a new person is waiting on you, and service is spotty.
Benefits worth dishing about. All qualified employees of Big Dipper Hospitality are eligible for annual bonuses, affordable health insurance, and discount gym memberships to stay fit. Secure scheduling practices make work/life balance easier for the staff, as employees don’t have to worry about being called into work for a few hours or being told they’ve been put on the schedule with little notice. There’s a matched Simple IRA to top things off so team members can save money now and for the future.
I often hear employers say they can’t afford to offer meaningful benefits to their employees. I tell them they can’t afford not to do so if you want to attract and keep people.
Putting growth on the menu. I can’t think of one person I know who isn’t interested in being challenged and having an opportunity to grow in their career. The policy at Big Dipper Hospitality is to offer job openings to current staff first.
Lots of companies promise growth opportunities yet fail to deliver, especially in the hospitality industry. It’s no wonder why employees are leaving this industry in droves. Those organizations and industries where employees feel they’re working in a dead-end job will have no one to blame but themselves if they don’t take action and start walking the talk.
When it comes to talent attraction and retention, there is no single recipe that will work for everyone. Organizations that take the time to figure out the right ingredients for their business will be able to feed their people’s hearts and souls, which will attract other like-minded employees to their business and rave reviews from customers.