The investment pays
There are some 185,000 employees at Darden, making it one of the 40 largest private employers in America. This past fiscal year, the company invested another $15 million in initiatives directly benefiting its workforce on top of the $20 million annual figure it made in 2018.
Per calendar year, the company said, it spends more than $40 million on training for team members.
Across all of its brands, hourly employees earn, on average, more than $16 per hour. And Darden pays employees on a weekly basis instead of bi-weekly.
About half of Darden’s 6,300 restaurant managers are promoted from its hourly ranks, and 90 percent of its 1,785 general managers and managing partners (the most influential roles in the organization) are promoted from within. On the same token, 90 percent of Darden’s 213 director of operations, it said, who oversee six to 12 restaurants apiece, are internal promotions.
“For some, a job at Darden is the start of a career with our company,” Lee wrote in a recent letter to shareholders. “For others, it enables them to further their education and eventually pursue a career elsewhere. Whatever the case, we know that the skills and experience we provide will help our team members not only grow and succeed within Darden, but wherever their career paths take them.”
Darden’s restaurant labor was 32.6 percent of costs ($2,771.1 in millions) in the fiscal year that ended May 26. The 1.2 percent increase from last year came from inflation and a 0.2 percent hit from workplace reinvestment costs, partially offset by a 0.6 percent lift from pricing leverage, and a 0.8 percent impact from sales leverage and improved productivity. That’s really not a bad hike all things considering.
Of Darden’s 185,000 workers, about 170,000 are hourly restaurant personnel (the remaining were management located in-store or in the field, or at its Orlando support center).
The company said its executives average 15 years with Darden. GMs and managing partners 13 years.
Darden’s benefits include access to dental and vision coverage, life insurance, critical illness and accident insurance, short-term disability insurance, and a number of discounts including dining in restaurants, wireless phone service, and computer loans.
Also, workers who are 21 and older can begin contributing to a 401(k) plan. After a year of employment, Darden matches 401(k) contributions and employees are eligible to participate in the company’s Employee Stock Purchase Plan.
Darden was recently named one of the “Best Employers for Diversity” by Forbes in 2019. Roughly 51 percent of the company’s restaurant team members are minorities and 55 percent are female.
Here’s a look at how that compares, using TDn2K’s People Report for full-service dining as a model.
Restaurant team members: 54 percent/Industry average: 53 percent
Hourly: 55 percent/Industry average: 54 percent
Manager: Hourly: 41 percent/Industry average: 41 percent
GM/managing partner: 31 percent/Industry average: 28 percent
Director of operations: 24 percent/Industry average: 19 percent
Corporate team members: 51 percent/Corporate workplace average: 48 percent
Individual contributor: 55 percent/Corporate workplace average: 49 percent
Manager: 55 percent/Corporate workplace average: 39 percent
Director and above: 37 percent/Corporate workplace average: 23 percent
People of color (African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, two or more races)
Restaurant team members: 50 percent/Industry average: 52 percent
Hourly: 51 percent/Industry average: 52 percent
Manager: Hourly: 33 percent/Industry average: 36 percent
GM/managing partner: 25 percent/Industry average: 24 percent
Director of operations: 18 percent/Industry average: 19 percent
Corporate team members: 35 percent/Corporate workplace average: 31 percent
Individual contributor: 43 percent/Corporate workplace average: 33 percent
Manager: 25 percent/Corporate workplace average: 24 percent
Director and above: 23 percent/Corporate workplace average: 15 percent