Each year, FSD sister magazine Restaurant Business compiles 50 standout ideas that fellow foodservice operators can use as inspiration. Given the current labor climate, it’s not surprising that many ideas that made waves last year focused on staff hiring and retention. Here’s a look at some that made the cut.
Extended parental leave
In a move that aims to set new standards for restaurants, fast casual Sweetgreen has expanded its perks for employees to include five months of paid leave for new parents. The leave extends beyond new mothers to fathers, adoptive parents, foster parents and “others with new additions to their families,” the chain said. The leave is available to all employees who have been on the payroll for at least six months.
Bonuses for hourlies
In a package targeted at part-time employees, Chipotle announced it will award crew members bonuses of up to a month’s pay over the course of a year. The quarterly bonus program, which awards bonuses equal to a week’s pay to staff on teams that meet certain sales, cash flow and throughput targets, is designed to help attract and retain top workers.
Rewarding employee development
Upscale-casual chain Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants rewards general managers and executive kitchen managers with free BMW leases for three years based on their ability to develop staffers. At a time when good labor—especially at the management level—is hard to come by, the program encourages managers to develop and mentor quality employees and build new leaders, even as they work on the day-to-day business.
Instead of having trainees sit in a back room for eight hours, Golden Corral breaks lessons into short shifts. After a trainee watches a few of these 15-minute “microbursts of learning,” the computer locks them out, forcing them to do hands-on training with a staffer.
When CaliBurger introduced robotics into its back of house, it repositioned both staffer tasks and training. Tasks that staff don’t love doing—scrapping on the grill, working the fryer, etc.—are being automated, and jobs are being repositioned to “chef tech” roles, with training programs in place for how to run automated equipment.
An optional surcharge on customers’ bills at Daisies in Chicago helps pay for workers’ health insurance, adding up to about $100 a month per employee. The restaurant pays the rest, which helps recruit and retain talented staff.