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The business I work for is a restaurant (franchise, one of 80+.) In 3 years it has rarely operated with a full staff because attracting workers to this location is difficult.

My question is about how to best handle the problem of seeing that all the work to be done gets done. As I see it, management has the choice of:

A. Accomplish only the minimum needed to operate lawfully and meet health codes;

B. Paying higher wages to attract and hire more workers;

C. Asking/requiring employees to work overtime to accomplish all work normally tasked to be done;

D. Operating at a slower pace serving guests and allow more time to accomplish non-essential work such as washing windows, cleaning vents, organizing stock, vacuuming, grounds maintenance, etc. (not to mention training,) all of which are now suffering.

Of these, only A. has been implemented. Neither B. nor C. have occurred and D. is considered simply out of the question. This is a booming location but they don't treat it any differently than the others. What will bring management to accept that something has got to change? Maybe as far as they are concerned, it doesn't.

  • What is your position? – Kilisi Nov 16 '18 at 0:23
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    I am the front counter cashier, a job which makes me responsible for the cleanliness of all customer areas. Or were you asking what position I take on the matter? To do my job to the degree it should be done is not possible for one person without working into overtime. However, I have been warned that if I work beyond 40 hours without being told to I will be disciplined. – i YAM GzORM Nov 16 '18 at 5:29
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    I wouldn't think you have the authority to do much except talk to management. It's not a problem you could solve – Kilisi Nov 16 '18 at 5:32
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    That's true, I don't have that authority. My question was, how can they be motivated? What can I say that will motivate them? I have the ear of the district manager who oversees 5 or 6 locations, and to a lesser degree his immediate boss and once in a great while the VP of Operations. – i YAM GzORM Nov 16 '18 at 5:50
  • They have already solved it by implementing A – Kilisi Nov 16 '18 at 5:53
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What will bring management to accept that something has got to change?

Lack of success in what they are doing will tend to convince management that change is needed. In this case "success" is defined on their terms.

In some companies, "success" is defined by attaining an annual bonus. If middle management gets bonuses based on sales revenues, then they will do things in an attempt maximize revenues to the expense of other tasks. If they are incentivized toward profits, they will attempt to maximize profits.

My question is about how to best handle the problem of seeing that all the work to be done gets done.

When management is properly incentivized toward "seeing that all the work to be done gets done", then it has a better chance of happening.

My guess is that management is being told to focus on other areas, And my guess is that they are doing what everyone would do in the face of too few resources and took many tasks - focus on the ones with the highest expected return for them personally.

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You need to talk to them using "money talk". Explain (with numbers) that it would require to hire cleaning agency to do the things that is not required from restaurant staff (never, ever as a waiter or greeter I had to clean windows or vents) so the staff can focus 100% on their work (preparing meals, serving customers etc).
Or how much time is wasted by staff not serving customers because they need to do other things (again, an hour of work can be easily translated in money that is lost).
You need to remember that you cannot show a possible problem (health codes can not be meet) and demand to have cure for it now. 90% of people will act "we don't have this problem yet so there is no need to spend money on it".
You need to show a solution to an existing problem (trying to get the minimum to operate lower the time people are on the floor earning money for the company).
Again, all these can be presented in number, this and this amount we are loosing, this and this amount could be earned if we had more people on the staff.
Have in mind that management will likely go with solution C to these problems. And you need to be prepared for that. Explain why the problem is not amount of hours but amount of tasks to be done in same hour.

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It's a matter of demand and supply. If the restaurant gets enough staff to provide the bare minimum and still makes an acceptable amount of money, the management won't have many incentives to change their strategy But if you want to attract people to that remote location, you will need to: 1) increase wages to accomodate for commute time and travel expenses; 2) justify this expenditure to management by providing evidence of higher profitability.

I would suggest, as a compromise, to introduce a new benefit for long-distance commuters, e.g. if your daily commute time to get to work is beyond one hour in each direction, the company will pay that additional time pro rata plus a bonus. E.g. if you are paid $10 and hour and the commute is two hours in each direction, the employee will get a pro rata bonus of $20 for the day, plus X% extra. To pay $25 extra, or even $50 extra, per day is nothing if it allows serving more tables, preparing more complex dishes and increasing efficiency in the restaurant operations.

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You have an excellent understanding of the situation.

This is a situation that exists in most areas of the country, probably because the government makes being unemployed a lucrative proposition and the companies resist paying more because like everyone, they want something for nothing. Most companies are burning out their employees by doing your options A,C AND D, until the employees pull up stakes and look for another firm that will give them better "life balance" or just more money.

Meanwhile, the companies get more aggressive in trying to lure employees from each other. This will continue until some of the businesses start folding because of bad performance, unsatisfied customers and the businesses die out.

The only real answer in is a pay raise. However, this has been resisted by business for a long time as they try to create other little perks thinking that will do the trick. If you insist on a raise for your location, you would be right, and managers claim they want associate input, but it is likely they won't want to hear it more than a couple of times. (Nevertheless, speak your mind when you feel the opportunity arises.)

One other option would be the use of part-time employees. As baby boomers become retirement age, a lot of them want to work part time jobs but the jobs are not readily available by companies that lack hiring creativity. Perhaps part-timers could be used to do a lot of the D chores and use the better trained associates to maintain the standards of quick and reliable service.

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