MUFSO and the “T-Word”: Notes from the Conference

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You can’t go to a restaurant or hospitality conference these days without hearing the T-word. T as in Talent.

First, if you want to hire and retain the best people in our industry today, you need to regard them as Talent and Team Members, rather than just employees. If hospitality hires embrace your culture and feel valued, challenged, and rewarded they are more likely to invest in your brand and stick around longer.

At MUFSO, we saw many examples of how successful scaling multi-location brands are investing in their people. The challenges the industry faces today are not small ones -- minimum wage increases, fast-moving technology, and legislation that costs operators time and money. 

As the CEO panel pointed out at MUFSO, these pressures (combined with the possibility of a recession) prompt leaders to look for creative new solutions.

In fact, a study from TDn2K confirmed that simply raising prices to absorb operating costs is NOT a formula for long-term success. (In their presentation they also shared the alarming statistic that 1 in 4 restaurant delivery drivers is sampling the food, making operators think long and hard about their delivery systems.)

Among some of the more pleasant trends and insights we saw at the conference:

  • Gamification can help make training more engaging. 

  • Harri strategic partner Stephanie O’Rourk, CPA of Cohn Reznick, LLP spoke about minimum wage and how to stay competitive and raise margins.

  • Technology is being applied creatively to:

    • Food safety. Temperatures can easily be measured and monitored through new devices like this.

    • Food prep training. Wearing a application of Google Glass, designed specifically for the restaurant industry, people can use both hands while they learn new techniques.

    • Staff cleanliness. This new machine will tell you whether you have bacteria on your hands, so you can return for another round of washing before hitting the kitchen.

    • Drive-through ordering (teaming an AI-assisted bot with a human employee). It can even remember to ask if you want fries or a larger drink.

    • Keeping tables from wobbling, which ultimately makes servers’ jobs easier.

  • New multi-location brands like &Pizza, MOD Pizza, and BurgerFi are putting a premium on team member and vendor engagement, ensuing every person feels invested in brand success.

  • Gary Vaynerchuk gave an enthusiastic keynote, stressing that treating every customer with respect and gratitude (via real-life connection and digital media) will separate the winners from the losers. 

Hiring, training, and retaining the right people will become even more important in the future, as your team members will work hand-in-hand with machines to prepare and serve food.

Equipment, flavor profiles, personalized marketing, and machine learning, AI, and robotics are all part of the evolution of the hospitality industry. But people still provide the heart and soul.

Learn how you can leverage our integrated technology solution to keep that heart beating 24/7.

Humanizing and Streamlining Your Hospitality Technology — Stop the A La Carte People Madness!

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Imagine if restaurant patrons had to order their salad from a different server from the one who brings their meal course. Or, if hotel guests received multiple receipts upon check-out and needed to talk to three different managers to get a total.

Sadly, that has become the state of affairs in the restaurant and hospitality technology worlds for managers and operators.  Vendors seem to have forgotten (or never knew) this one thing:

People are at the Heart of the Hospitality Business

Let’s Put Humans...Not Apps...First!

Many developers create systems without direct experience in our industry. You want to be sure you’re selecting technologies that have been created by people who have a clear sense of how people think and behave -- and what operators really need to run their businesses. Having deep and broad experience with restaurant and hospitality staffing -- and knowing the day-to-day life of a server, hotel front desk manager, or chef entails -- will result in people-centered solutions rather than tech-centered solutions. 

You need tech that solves REAL problems without having to click on multiple apps, remember hundreds of passwords, and deal with tens of salespeople and support staff.

The technology boom has created a situation where multiple vendors have solved for a particular talent problem (e.g., staffing, scheduling, or training) but the systems may not talk to one another and the user (who is already running his or her business) has to learn multiple platforms to solve a very simple challenge:

How do I find, hire, train, schedule, retain, and financially account for and reward the best possible employees?

Exceptional service delivery is the way our industry wows guests and generates more sales as a result. People look for a personal and exceptional experience when they visit hotels and restaurants and live human beings deliver that experience. But finding, training, and retaining those super-humans is the greatest driver of sales and is a complex challenge. We need to put people first -- not the technology solution.

Let’s begin at the beginning -- with hiring…

How often have you heard the promise, “Our tool integrates with your applicant tracking system (ATS).” Even the term “ATS” is sterile and tech-y. At the end of the day you’re seeking, hiring, training, and retaining  people -- the best people -- to serve your customers. 

We began with a question rather than a promise or solution. “HOW do you find the best people for a particular hospitality job?” Then we built a hiring and ATS system that focuses on people and skills, not bells and whistles.

When you invest in a free-standing ATS tool, you’re chopping-up the experience for the hiring manager and the people you’re hiring. 

  1. You have to buy a separate tool. That’s less you have to spend on the talent itself.

  2. Your team needs to learn separate tools, and who really has time for that?

  3. The data about the candidate doesn’t automatically connect to your other systems once you hire them.

  4. The candidate experience is fragmented.

Onboarding and Training Keep the Heart Pumping

Job satisfaction begins with the candidate experience. The same way you welcome guests and make them feel valued by sharing hotel or menu specials, you need a streamlined and heartfelt way to help new hospitality hires feel like part of the team and bring their best selves to work. You need to give them the skills they need to excel. 

Simplifying online training is key in today’s hospitality environment when the days of classroom and break room learning are drawing to a close. If training is convenient, streamlined, and even fun your team is more likely to embrace it -- again leading to a better experience for your guests.

Your POS System Can Helps You Understand the Business...but Not the People

If people are the heart of the hospitality business, your POS system feeds its circulation but doesn’t ultimately keep it healthy. It generates the data and trends to help you make people-related decisions but doesn’t necessarily contribute to satisfaction and retention. 

Scheduling is, at the end of the day, a people-driven function. “I have a class that ends at 5pm” or “I don’t have childcare coverage that day” are very human realities and needs. A POS system can inform you when you need to be staffed and with what positions, but schedule management needs to be simple and intuitive -- for you and your team members. Again, if you need to have a degree in coding to manage schedules, you’re missing the mark. We know that schedule flexibility and responsiveness is a huge factor in employee satisfaction. You want a scheduling app that’s a solution, not a stress factor.

We started with the question, “How do real employees and real hospitality leaders manage time?” and then built a system that’s the human version of that process.

In short…

People-driven, all-in-one technology can take an average person, willing to put in the average amount of effort and make them successful in their role.  

The end goal is not developing the slickest app, but instead streamlining talent acquisition for everyone -- applicants, candidates, recruiters, hiring managers, and operators. 

Ultimately, your valued guests will benefit from that simplification. You won’t be paying for multiple systems (and passing the costs along to them). You’ll attract better candidates and save time and effort for both yourself and your team members. 

Why Harri?

All too often, vendors will sell a tech solution that addresses one aspect of the talent loop (e.g., hiring or scheduling), but having an end-to-end and fully integrated system will save you time -- and make you money -- in the long-run.

Having all your key data in one accessible place will enable you to analyze your business and make immediate and meaningful people-related decisions, even when traveling.

Your profitability, employee satisfaction, compliance, analytics, and the future of your brand are all now in the same platform.

We’re committed to helping our client partners with best-in-class solutions that solve for labor-related challenges -- and helping YOU realize that 60 percent increase in productivity...now and into the future.

Best-in-class versus all-in-one? You don’t have to choose.

Schedule a demo and personalized consultation today.

Are you prepared for the overtime law changes?

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Planning schedules to reduce overtime is a difficult task at the best of times. And it’s becoming even more important for restaurateurs to control overtime as new labor laws come into force on January 1, 2020. 

The new regulations put a 50% increase on the salary threshold for employees eligible for overtime pay. The Department of Labor estimates that 1.2 million more workers will be eligible, with much of this added cost being taken on by restaurant operators.

Violation of overtime laws can result in a fine of $10,000 and even prison time for repeat offenders. Not to mention the rise in the wage bill if you get the scheduling wrong and have to pay time-and-a-half for several hours a week.

To make sure you’re compliant with the new law, let’s take a look at the specifics. First what the new threshold is and who is affected. And then some tips on how to reduce overtime using the latest technology available.

What exactly does the new law say?

The new regulations apply to salaried staff, including restaurant managers, assistant managers, executive chefs, office support staff and other managerial staff. Employees qualify for time-and-a-half pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, if their salary is under $35,568. 

The previous threshold was significantly lower at $23,660. The increase of $12,000 in the threshold is small compared to what it could have been. A proposal by the Obama administration proposed to set it at $47,476, a near doubling compared to the current threshold, was blocked by a district judge in November 2016. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, restaurant workers earned an average of $387 per week in July. The new overtime rules will increase the weekly threshold from $455 to $684. Employers can count non-discretionary bonuses and other performance-related incentives for up to only 10% of the employee’s total compensation.

The move has been welcomed by the National Restaurant Association, which states that it brings much-needed clarity for restaurants while putting more money in employee’s wallets. 

But the changes also pose a number of challenges to restaurant operators. Scheduling and predicting peak times is a tricky task. And juggling the wants and needs of a diverse staff while trying to comply with strict labor laws can be overwhelming.

We’ve put together some top tips to help you deal with the changes by digging into your data to produce better scheduling and happier employees while reducing costly overtime hours. 

How to prepare for the change

To stay on top and optimize your pay structure and schedules you need accurate data and reporting tools. Here are some tips to stay on top of overtime and prevent a huge wage bill, or worse, a fine for non-compliance.

How to reduce overtime spend

Cross-train staff

The more skilled your staff are across multiple areas, the more agile you can be with scheduling. Investing in cross-training for even a small number of employees can make a big difference. 

Having versatile staff on hand to cover when things get tight can mean you avoid asking other employees to work double shifts. Thus making everyone a little happier and avoiding overtime hours. 

Giving employees a broader skill set is also beneficial in general and is a great way to prepare staff for management roles, where it always helps to know how to work different aspects of the restaurant.

Take on temporary staff

If overtime is becoming a problem at peak seasonal periods, it may make sense to hire seasonal workers to cover the increased demand. Although it’s often more expensive to hire temps in terms of added training and inflated hourly wages, given the overtime laws, it may make more sense. 

This is an area where looking at the data is key. A quick calculation will tell you whether hiring a temporary member of staff to fill in say 10 hours a week, would be cheaper than paying that much in overtime hours. 

Talk to your staff

Going back to basics, the best way to manage effectively is to be able to openly communicate with your staff. Hold regular one-on-one meetings and be generally available to talk to employees about their concerns. 

You may discover that certain people are unhappy with their workload, while others are happy to take on more. Or you could discover who is not pulling their weight during busy periods. Taking the anecdotal evidence coupled with raw data on staff costs gives you a solid foundation on which to make strategic decisions about pay structure and schedules.

Optimize schedules

Staying on top of schedules and keeping them well organized is a top priority in reducing unexpected overtime. This is partly down to good management. Knowing the business and knowing the demand. 

It’s also improved and made easier by technology. Harri’s Wage and Hour Compliance Engine is designed for this exact purpose. It allows you to set the parameters for each employee to ensure compliance with labor laws. 

You can easily adjust a number of these parameters including the weekly overtime threshold and the spread of hours, and the system produces an optimized schedule for you.

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Consider changing your pay structure

You know how important it is to keep your best staff happy. It may be worth considering a pay increase to take salaries above the new overtime threshold. Many employees will be happy to work extra hours in exchange for the security of a higher salary. 

On the flip side, keeping some employees to a strict 40-hour workweek could improve morale and mindset while increasing loyalty. As we discussed earlier, it’s important to talk to your staff and find out what works best for them. Ultimately, if they’re happy, they will be more productive and you will see improvements in every aspect of the business. 

And if you can optimize your pay structure to get the best out of your staff while also making it cost-effective, it is a win-win.

As part of a suite of integrated performance, attendance and analytics tools, Harri has developed a real-time labor and sales reporting tool to help you optimize your pay structure, among other things.

The smart technology tracks sales, labor costs and figures like average spend by guest, and compiles the relevant data into concise reports to give you all the information you need at a glance. 

On top of that, it tracks key employee performance metrics so you can make strategic decisions about your pay structure and the optimal pay package for each employee. 

Stay on top of overtime law changes with smart scheduling, analytics, and reporting tools

Harri’s intelligent scheduling and data reporting systems give you all the data you need in an easily digested form allowing you not only to comply with the minimum legal requirements but also to make strategic decisions.

Once you have the system in place, you should see the immediate benefits of the cost savings from optimizing your scheduling and pay structure. And as labor laws continue to change, you will be ready to adapt and optimize further in the future. 

To find out more about how these tools can improve your bottom line, request a demo today



Explained: Chicago Fair Workweek Regulations

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Fair Workweek regulations are coming into force across the nation. These ‘predictive scheduling’ laws aim to promote flexibility for shift workers and protect against unfair scheduling practices.

The rules are complex and fines for violations are heavy.

A case from December 2017, involving minimum wage and overtime violations, showed the tough penalties in place and the willingness of the authorities to enforce employment law. An Italian restaurant in Chicago was ordered to pay $339,000 in fines and damages after paying non-tipped trainees as little as $3.75 an hour and failing to pay time-and-a-half to employees who worked over 40 hours a week.

On January 1 this year, Chicago City Council created a new department, The Office of Labor Standards, to “proactively investigate employers it believes could be violating labor laws”. On top of this, on July 1, 2020, new legislation comes into force with even stricter predictive scheduling laws and penalties.

It’s important for operators to be aware of these developments, but for now, we’ll focus on the current laws for restaurants and franchisees in Chicago. Among other headaches, shifts must be planned 14 days in advance and records must be immaculate to avoid costly fines.

And the fact these regulations vary significantly state-by-state makes it all the more difficult for restaurant groups who operate across multiple cities.

Many operators have put dedicated finance teams in place to identify violations and deal with penalties to ensure compliance. But this approach deals with the symptoms of the problem rather than the cause. 

What is needed is a holistic solution that tackles the root cause while also mitigating risks throughout the business, enabling all departments to consistently and proactively work together. 

Giving managers the power to use predictive scheduling effectively, minimizes violations and pushes any violation data straight to payroll to be dealt with in accordance with the law.

The result is greater efficiency and less stress for managers, more flexibility and protection for employees, and better results for the business – not only in terms of happy workers but in costs saved and embarrassment avoided.

Let’s take a look at the rules and penalties for the Windy City and then how Harri’s system deals with the many challenges they pose to fast food operators in the city.

Regulations for Chicago

Here’s an overview of the main regulations and related penalties that restaurant and fast-casual operators in Chicago should be aware of.

Good Faith Estimate

Employees must be provided with a Good Faith Estimate of:

  • The median number of hours they are expected to work in a workweek.

  • Whether they are expected to work on-call or not.

  • A subset of days and a subset of times or shifts that the employee can expect to work, or days of the week and times or shifts on which the employee will not be scheduled to work. 

An employee may request that the employer modify the estimated work schedule.

Right to Rest

Employees have the right to decline work hours scheduled:

  • Less than 11 hours after the end of the previous day's shift.

  • During the 11 hours following the end of a shift that spanned two days.

An employee who agrees in writing to work such hours must be compensated 1.5x their regular rate of pay for any hours worked less than 11 hours following the end of a previous shift.

Advanced Notice on Scheduling

  • Schedules must be provided two weeks in advance

  • New employees must be included in an existing schedule with other employees

  • Employees have the right to decline any previously unscheduled hours that the employer adds to the schedule with less than 14 days’ notice.

  • The employer is required to pay no less than 1.5x the employee's regular rate of pay per hour for any scheduled hours the employee does not work, if the employer, with less than 24 hours' notice:  

    • Subtracts hours from a regular or on-call shift.

    • Cancels a regular or on-call shift.

Predictability Pay for Schedule Changes

Predictability pay offers protection against last-minute schedule changes and is paid at the employee’s standard hourly rate.

The employer must pay the following penalties, for schedule changes with:

  • No change in number of hours:

    • One hour of predictability pay.

  •  Additional Hours

    • One hour of predictability pay.

  •  Subtracted Hours

    • More than 24 hours' notice: one hour of predictability pay.

    • Less than 24 hours' notice: at least 1.5x the employee's regular hourly rate for any scheduled hours.

On-call protection

  • More than 24 hours’ notice: At least 1.5x the employee's regular hourly rate for any scheduled hours.

  • Less than 24 hours’ notice: one hour of predictability pay.

Exceptions

The above requirements don’t apply under any of the following circumstances:

  • Operations cannot begin or continue due to:

    • Threats to employers, employees, or property.

    • Civil authorities recommending that work not begin or continue.

    • Failure of public utilities to supply electricity, water, or gas, or failure in the public utilities or sewer system.

    • Acts of nature (including but not limited to flood, fire, explosion, earthquake, tidal wave, drought), war, civil unrest, strikes, or a similar cause not within the employer's control.

  • A schedule change is the result of a mutually agreed upon shift trade or coverage arrangement between employees, subject to any existing employer policy regarding required conditions for employees to exchange shifts.

  • An employee requests a shift change in writing, including but limited to use of sick leave, vacation leave, or other policies offered by the employer.

Access to Hours for Existing Employees

This part of the legislation requires the employer to give fair and reasonable access to hours to existing and new employees. It sets out requirements for how hours are advertised so that they can be distributed fairly.

  • Before hiring new employees, the employer must offer additional hours of work to existing employees.

  • Employees have the right to refuse this work. An employee who wishes to accept the additional hours must do so in writing.

  • The employer must post written notice of available work shifts for at least three consecutive calendar days, unless a shorter posting period is necessary in order for the work to be timely performed. 

  • The offer must be posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace where notices to employees are normally posted, or electronically on an internal website in a conspicuous location readily accessible to all employees.

  • The notice must include: 

    • The total hours of work being offered.

    • The schedule of available shifts.

    • Whether those shifts will occur at the same time each week.

    • the length of time the employer anticipates requiring coverage of the additional hours.

    • The process by which employees may notify the employer of their desire to work The offered hours.

    • An advisement that an employee may accept a subset of the shifts offered.

    • The criteria the employer will use for the distribution of the shifts. 

  • The employer may post the notice concurrently at the location where the shifts described in the notice will be worked, locations other than the location where the work is to be performed, and to external candidates.

Harri’s Intelligent Scheduling 

Harri’s intelligent scheduling system automatically keeps operators up-to-date with regulations, even across multiple jurisdictions. It helps you not only to actively comply with regulations, but also to use predictive scheduling to improve your business.

Here’s a rundown of the main features.

Good Faith Documentation

The system includes the following features to make employees aware of the Good Faith Schedule during onboarding:

  • The automatically generated Good Faith Estimate document provides new hires with a clear schedule in accordance with the local laws.

  • This is seamlessly integrated into the onboarding process for review and e-signature by the new hire. 

Direct Shift Swaps

Harri’s Hot Fill system allows employees to exchange shifts directly without employer involvement. The peer-to-peer shift exchange does not violate the above rules on shift swaps based on pay rate and overtime thereby avoiding late-change penalties.

Hot Fill - “Uber for your employees”

Here’s how it works:

  1. An employee is unable to attend work and they release the shift.

  2. Other employees have indicated they wish to work on that day if a shift becomes available (note, they are not “on-call”).

  3. The system alerts these employees via SMS and push notification. 

  4. The first employee to accept gets the shift.

  5. The manager on duty is notified of the employee’s ETA and distance from work.

This system offers more flexibility for employees and makes it far easier for managers to oversee a shift swap, all while avoiding costly late-change penalties.

Calculation of Right to Rest Compensation Payment

The Right to Rest regulation ensures employees adequate rest between shifts. Harri helps managers to comply by alerting them if this rule is violated when the schedule is created, or any time after it is created, so they can proactively make changes to the schedule.

Manager Alert for Penalties Related to Schedule Changes 

Managers have the ability to define compensation rules for changes after the advance notice period. Shift change premium pay is indicated on the schedule itself and included in the total wage cost calculations.

This means managers are fully aware of the cost impact of schedule changes before they put them in place so they are able to plan and make strategic decisions accordingly. It also makes it easy for the finance department to calculate the costs and pay the right amount to the employee.

Predictive Scheduling Premium Reporting

This feature provides managers with reports indicating, in detail, all the premium payments resulting from schedule changes. These can then be passed seamlessly to the finance department where they can be processed.

They can also be analyzed and scrutinized by management so that key decisions can be made on the company-wide scheduling policy to avoid future fines.

Make Sure Your Business is Protected

The best way to ensure compliance, at scale and across states and cities, is to use a holistic system designed for the purpose.

Harri’s smart scheduling tools simplify every stage of the process, dealing with the cause of the problem in order to minimize violations and streamline communication between departments, managers, and employees.

To see how you can use the system to protect your business and lead a happy, better-rested team, get started with Harri’s smart scheduling tools.

Learn more about Fair Workweek regulations in New York City and San Francisco.

Five Reasons to Start an Employee Referral Program

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Finding and keeping talent are two of the central struggles in the hospitality industry. A new feature in Harri’s service will help your organization overcome both challenges. Users will now have the ability to leverage their employee's social network with the capability of Harri's Employee Social Referral Program. The new feature will help companies maximize their external job posts’ visibility by facilitating an employee social referral program.

Here’s how it works: With the employee referral feature in the Spread the Work job page turned on, every time you post a new external job, all or a select group of employees is sent a URL to the job posting either via SMS text, email or both. Each URL sent to employees is unique so that if and when they share it on their own Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or WhatsApp accounts, the organization can collect information on how well the referral program is working. 

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For instance, hiring managers will be able to see a breakdown of stats by referring employee as well as how each social network ranks as far as clicks, applications, screened candidates, and hired employees. To facilitate deep dives or quick glances, these analytical reports are available in both table and bar graph view.

Read on to discover how an Employees Referral Program can greatly improve how your organization finds – and retains – talent.

  1. It taps into an underutilized pool of talent. If you’re only posting jobs to the typical job boards, you’re only advertising positions to the small group of people looking for work through those channels. When employees post about a job on their own social media account, that posting is being read by a large variety of people. What’s more, the job posting will also get in front of those who may not be actively searching for a new job but may be inspired to change positions if the right opportunity comes along.

  2. It attracts a different source of talent. Having your employees post job openings functions as a sort of endorsement for working with your organization. As your employees’ contacts are familiar with your employee, they are more likely to read and trust a job posting than if it just appeared on a general career site. Research shows that referred employees are a better fit right for the job from the start. Employee referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate – only 7% apply but this accounts for 40% of all hires. In recent research conducted by Dr. John Sullivan, 88% of employers said that referrals are the #1 best source for above-average applicants.

  3. It acts as a positive reward system for current employees. A key component in any employee referral program is incentivizing your current staff to participate. To that end, hiring managers should decide the monetary compensation amount, as well as a threshold that a newly referred employee must meet (i.e. 90 days past hire) in order for the referring employee to receive compensation. Make sure to set very clear timelines that referred candidates/employees must meet before referring employee is eligible for a reward.

  4. It maximizes job posting visibility. Having employees broadcast a job posting to their online connection makes the numbers work in your favor. Consider that on average, people have 7.6 social media accounts. Now consider that on Facebook, the average person has about 155 friends. If 25 of your employees share a job post on Facebook, 3,875 people will see it. And that number is far greater on Twitter where the average user has 707 followers. As part of Harri’s service, the Spread the Word page shows the percentage of how well you have maximized the job post visibility after sharing it to job boards, career sites, on the company’s social media accounts and with employees. 

  5. It results in longer retention rates. Employee referral hires are more likely to stay past that tricky 90-day time period when turnover is the highest. In general, referral hires have greater job satisfaction and stay longer at companies. Studies show that 46% stay over 1 year, 45% over 2 years and 47% over 3 years. 

This could be because these new hires benefit from having a built-in support system as they already know someone within the organization. This connection also means they are more likely to have insight into the company’s culture and role expectations before beginning the work.