I don’t know any other way to start this post. Don’t worry. It get’s better.
I’m writing with one particular target audience, but I believe anyone can benefit from the information I’m about to give you. So, who do I have in mind for this?
Entrepreneurs. Managers. Employers of all kinds. And most importantly – restaurateurs. Listen up all of you. If I ask any of you what the number one challenge you are facing is you’ll all tell me same thing- staffing. Hiring. Finding and recruiting “good” people. It’s a labor recession! The end is nigh! These darned kids don’t know what work is! Back in my day I…
Bullshit. Utter and complete bullshit.
Yes, we are in a talent recession. That much is true. All that means is that we as employers have to up our game and increase our employment value proposition. The days when we can churn and burn through people because there’s a line to take their place are over, and good fucking riddance to them. That mindset is incompatible with business in the 21st century and with hospitality in particular. It’s a new day, and a better one at that. Employees today are far more in tune with their own needs and goals than ever before. The information age has erased the ever present fear of “will I get another job?” 21st century workers don’t have to put up with poor employers anymore. They know they will get another job, and can have one before they walk out the door without so much as an “I quit have a nice day.”
So what do we do? We step it up. At Chronic Tacos, we believe that the best investment we can make is in our people. That’s paying above average, yes. But it’s also engaging with our team on a really basic level- providing constant feedback and giving actionable steps towards whatever goals they may have. One thing I love to tell my team is that “every business skill you can possibly need can be learned in a restaurant. From HR to people management to R&D to marketing to quality control and more. So no matter where you want to go in life, I can help you get there.” And then, most importantly, I follow through on it. I promote almost exclusively from within- that’s something I’m extraordinarily proud of. I create development plans for those who want to move up. We list out exactly what steps they need to take. Transparency is important here- explain clearly and explicitly what you’re looking for. There’s nothing worse than when your boss tells you that you didn’t meet expectations you didn’t know you he/she had for you. Find ways to reward your team- they don’t need to be expensive. Donuts and coffee every so often is always appreciated. A gift card when they really step up. If you have social media (and you damn well should- more on that in a later post) call out your all-stars often. Everyone loves public praise. Just generally be there for your team. Be someone they know they can count on. Whether it’s a 1am call, a short term loan (this can be touchy so I do not encourage a blanket loan policy, just be willing to help your most reliable if they’re in a jam if you are financially able to), or cheering them on at their lacrosse game- be there for them 100%.
If you’re a parent, this probably sounds very familiar. It’s parenting, no two ways about it. It’s providing a constant level of support and not shying away from tough love. It’s setting the bar high and providing the tools and training needed to achieve it. And after a while, your team may start calling you “work mom” and “work dad.” That has happened more than a few times at Chronic Tacos.
I know, I know, touchy feely millennial bullshit. Here’s the thing- that’s the world now. Like it or not, millennials are about to overcome baby boomers as the most represented generation in the workforce. The things I’m talking about are fairly soon going to become the standard for workplaces- meaning employers like myself will be finding new ways to improve our employment value proposition. If you’re still struggling with what I just spoke to you about in five years, expect most of your staff to be working for me. The world’ is changing, and contrary to what some may say it’s not changing for the worse. We can debate all day over whether its actually for the better or not, there are great arguments on both sides, but I propose an alternative. First, adapt to the new ways of the working world. Second, take it even further. Become an even better employer according to the new rules. For a while, return all your success to your employees. That will encourage them to continue working hard. They will refer their friends to you for jobs. They’ll tell everyone how much they love working for you. Those people they tell will become your customers because who doesn’t want to support a business that loves its employees? There’s an anecdote I will leave you with, the premise being exactly what I just said. It goes like this:
HR Manager to CEO: “What if we invest all this time, energy, and money into our employees and they become the best- then they leave us?”
CEO to HR Manager: “That could be true…but what happens if we don’t?”