Skills can be taught, but hiring employees who embody your brand and its core values is not teachable.
In today’s world, a thriving company culture and healthy work environment has become the most critical criteria for potential candidates. The pandemic created indelible changes in our industry, and with this new dynamic comes the need to refocus our energy on both the tangible and intangible. Brands that were fortunate enough to survive the pandemic are now experiencing a new threat – historic labor shortages. If you’re reading this column, you’re no doubt solving for it; my guess is you’ve already had multiple conversations about it just this week. At FB Society, we’re in constant pursuit of the best operators and teams in the business to help us create incredible experiences, and we know there a few things that matter most.
MORE FROM JACK GIBBONS: 5 Things That Excite Me About the Future of the Restaurant Industry
There’s plenty of data out there that point to the same answer—candidates in the job market don’t just want a job, they want a home. They want to feel connected to something and to know their work matters. They want to wake up ready to make an impact and work for someone that has personal values that align with their own. That’s a tall order, but it’s an order you have to fill if you’re going to stay in this business.
Skills can be taught, but hiring employees who embody your brand and its core values is not teachable. At FB Society, all of our concepts build from within through a strong and meaningful culture that aligns with each brand’s DNA. Then we hire people who believe what we believe and it creates an unspoken bond that makes the headwinds we’re currently facing as an industry a bit easier to navigate.
Here are three ways to take a culture-first approach when recruiting and retaining employees:
Look for talent from within.
Advertising and signing bonuses are short-term fixes. Your employees understand who makes a perfect fit for your brand. So, instead of sharing signing bonuses with those outside of your organization, look to your current team and make them your best recruiters. Then, reward them with a referral bonus. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Actively appreciate your current team members.
Employees who feel valued and empowered are more likely to become long-term team members. Celebrating individuals’ successes and team wins is an easy, yet often overlooked way to recruit and retain employees. Share these big wins on social media as well so others working in less desirable environments will see what your brand’s culture is all about. I’m not talking about giving out participation trophies because that just breeds complacency – truly reward those that are going the extra mile and others will follow.
Create unique traditions.
At FB Society, promoting culture starts the moment someone is hired. Whiskey Cake gives new team members a plant that they take care of throughout training. To kick off training at our new Haywire restaurant, team members were treated to an immersive food and beverage experience each day and they received gift cards to have an experience at the Plano location. Sixty Vines rewards high performing team members with the opportunity to take a trip to a vineyard each quarter. It’s special moments like these that make employees excited and proud to be a part of our brands.
During this incredibly challenging time, we all have to dig deeper to find ways to connect with our team and attract new team members. As we refocus and work on new strategies, challenge yourself to get creative in how you handle staffing. Can you streamline any processes? Can you cross-train employees? No matter how you choose to handle it, remember this too shall pass and like all challenges, the strong get stronger. Restaurants have proven time and time again that we are a mighty, resilient group, and when we continue to focus on positive culture, we will build a team that is unstoppable!
Jack Gibbons is the CEO of FB Society.