Harri On the Rise...Why We're Celebrating

This quarter has been tough on our competitors in talent technology platforms. There’s news of consolidation, leadership changes, and potential layoffs -- all cause for concern. Meanwhile, here at Harri HQ, we’ve spent these past couples of months celebrating some exciting milestones and we couldn’t wait to share them with you:

Top Start-Up

Cue the fanfare! Harri has been recognized as a Top-50 Startup in the United States by LinkedIn. The professional networking site weighed factors such as interest in the company, engagement with employees, job interest, and retention to rank the most sought-after startups where professionals want to work and more impressively, stay. LinkedIn cited Harri’s ability to make life easier in the hospitality industry – a tough sector with one of the worst employee turnover rates – by owning all stages of the hiring process, from sourcing hotel and restaurant workers to managing employee schedules. What an honor. "Five years ago,” says CEO Luke Fryer, “we began the Harri journey with a vision of creating the next generation of broadly capable, industry optimized, employee management technology. This was and continues to be an audacious but increasingly achievable goal that's validated by moments like this."

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Growing Our Team

While the job market suffers elsewhere, we’re happy to announce that we’ve just hired our 100th engineer and are on track to double that number in the next 12 months. Finding and retaining a skilled engineering team means we can continue to develop a powerful suite of tools to help you with your talent needs, create seamless and user-friendly platforms, and deliver unparalleled customer service.


Expanding Our Global Footprint

Not only are we growing our own staff, we’ve hit a fantastic landmark in growing our customers. Since launching in the United Kingdom in May 2016, we’ve acquired so many great brands as clients. In fact, we just recently signed our 50th customer – Dishoom!

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Dishoom is an Indian restaurant chain that pays homage to the old Irani cafes of Bombay. Inspired by true flavors of home cooked Indian food, Dishoom’s founders are re-creating the community hubs they have seen to exist in the restaurants of Bombay. Among their dozens of awards, The Sunday Times recently ranked Dishoom 36th in their ‘100 Best Companies to Work For.” We count ourselves lucky to have such an innovating brand on board - not only is the food sensational; they are pioneers of great candidate experience and we are excited to help them grow through their people!

Powered by Harri, Customers Expand

When we help you build and manage your workforce, you’ll find that you have much more bandwidth to focus on other aspects of your business. That’s why we’re so excited when our partners expand into new locations and concepts. We’re on the same team.

Take ThinkFood Group. We’re currently helping them with talent acquisition and management for their brand-new location in Disney Springs, Florida. The concept, Jaleo By José Andrés, will feature Spanish tapas, paella and sangria.

We’re also stoked to be a part of Snooze, an A.M. Bakery’s incredible growth. After a record six new openings in 2017, the chain is on pace for eight new restaurants this year and 12 in 2019. We recently spoke with their Senior Vice President of People Resources, Brianna Borin, to find out her best practices for ensuring quality talent management as the enterprise continues to grow.

“People are your biggest asset. The second you lose sight of that, things can go really wrong, really quickly -- especially if you’re growing as fast as we are as a company,” she recently told us. “You have to power those assets to be the best asset they can be. Use as many tools and resources that can aid you in doing that well. It’s really critical.” (Watch the inspiring conversation here.)

This is just a snapshot to share that we’re celebrating big wins in how we’re building, growing, and investing in the next-generation talent technology platform for hospitality. In spite of what you’re reading about the fate of some of our competitors, rest assured, the future is bright.

How do you keep a strong level of Customer Service whilst your business is rapidly growing?

Being part of a rapidly growing company is always exciting, but also exacting.

It’s completely normal to feel like there isn’t enough resource to deliver the excellent customer service levels expected of your business. Although this seems like a problem, it’s a great one to have and it is important to keep in mind that no matter what stage your organisation is at, the principles of great customer service always remain the same:

  • Listen to customers at various levels and functions of the business to gain invaluable insight to take action

  • Immerse yourself into who your customer is and what they do. In other words, see their world through their lens not necessarily from the more convenient perspective of yours

  • Determine the ‘need’ from the ‘want’. Both are important to the customer, but finite resource means that you need to prioritise. Ask yourself: What is required to make my client’s business work better; What are they looking to achieve?

  • Under-promise and over-deliver

  • Measure what you are delivering (NPS). This enables you to keep track of individual and team performance and quantify improvement. Seeing improvement is really motivating for employees and customers alike

  • Be honest. If something does not go well, hold your hands up and learn for the future

  • Take your customers’ ‘temperature’: talk to customers regularly to gauge where your service levels stand with them

  • Share any customer feedback (good or bad) with the relevant colleagues in your organisation in goodwill, in the constant quest to improvement.


The only thing that is certain during growth is change, and in all likelihood what the position is now will have changed in six months’ time. Flexibility and nimbleness are key. Engrained within your mindset before any change is executed or any decision is made should be the question: 

Will this have a positive effect on the customer?

It’s often easy to get distracted by the ‘noise’ and forget that the customer comes first. If you build this question into your company culture, you’ll find it hard to go wrong.

Ultimately, great customer service will create your strongest brand advocates. Advocates being those who, when addressed will positively recommend your business to another business.  

Advocates are a necessity to most business development. It is therefore arguable that customer service has the potential to be the biggest driver of business growth. It should never be ignored during periods of success but instead nurtured and built up using the principles above.

Supporting Mental Health in the Hospitality Industry

Today, Wednesday 10th October is World Mental Health. Mental health relates to a person’s psychological, emotional and social well-being. It affects the decisions we make, how we treat and relate to others and how we handle stress.

The hospitality industry can be a stressful place to work. It’s fast paced, the hours are long and sometimes anti-social and there is always pressure to deliver excellent customer service. If we let it, this can become overwhelming.

The newest client to join the Harri family is Caravan; a company that cares deeply about mental health and goes above and beyond to ensure their staff are well supported. We are so proud to have them on board!

Nicole Zachariah, UK Marketing Manager at Harri sat down with Elsa De Jager, Head of People at Caravan to chat about the importance of supporting mental health within hospitality, specifically the restaurant industry. Read the interview below:

Nicole: Why are mental health issues common in the hospitality industry?

Elsa: Working in the hospitality industry can often mean long hours, at times low wages and physically and mentally challenging working environments. Historically, there has been an expectation to just ‘get on with it’ e.g. chefs coming into work when sick, or never complaining even when doing back-to-back shifts.

Nicole: Do you think things will get better within the industry?

Elsa : Well, the positive news is that alongside a shift in the law to better protect employees, the culture and expectations of the industry are changing too. Career prospects, flexibility in the workplace and a culture of respect and well-being is emerging. Mental health should be one of the major things our industry focus on, collectively supporting each other to do better and facilitate improved working environments for our teams.  

Nicole: What is Caravan’s position when it comes to mental health support in the workplace?

Elsa: At Caravan, we have always championed a culture of mutual respect, inclusivity, diversity and support. We are actively looking at ways we can improve how we support our teams, particularly when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. The owners of Caravan- Laura, Chris & Miles- have always fostered and focused on a really positive work environment for their teams- both for front and back of house.

Nicole: Why is fostering a positive working environment and culture so important when it comes to mental health?  

Elsa: Creating a culture of teamwork and support among employees is key to supporting mental health. This is because there is no way we can expect our team to excel at work, if they don’t feel good about themselves in their role and in their place in the business. 

Nicole: What initiatives have Caravan put in place to support mental health?


  • We are currently exploring how we can attract the best people who may not have the flexibility to do the traditional hours of restaurants. We have, for example, working mums who are managers, because we offer them flexible working hours and a supportive working environment.

  • We focus on great staff benefits, team development, staff parties and entertainment.

  • A recent focus of the business has also been to overhaul our process for internal communication by adding support roles (such as mine) so that if team members are suffering from mental health issues, they know they have someone to talk to who is equipped to help them appropriately i.e., what questions to ask, how to listen, and how to best support them.

  • In the future, we are looking to add a “well-being” segment to our Learning & Development annual calendar to include sessions on meditation, breathing techniques, stress control and life coping strategies.







How to Spot a Service Superstar

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You know the type: poised, effortlessly charming, megawatt smile, warm and welcoming, easy to talk to, and genuinely kind. The type of person you want on your team. The type of person you meet and immediately want to clone.

I’m not describing a service unicorn - far from it. I’m describing a service superstar.

In fact, you have people with these wonderful qualities in your operation right now. The key is to figure out who they are and how to entice more of them to join your operation. 

When I was consulting to Le Cirque, a young man with a very charming and warm manner worked as a doorman. He could light up the place with his smile and he had a bounce in his step. He was the perfect person to have at the front door of Le Cirque as he embodied warmth, professionalism, and charisma; this set the tone for the experience to come and he was a small but essential part of the customer experience.

But he wasn’t always the doorman; in fact, he had been hired as a dishwasher. Once Sirio, the storied owner of Le Cirque, met him and saw his smile and willingness to work, he realized that this guy would be better utilized at the front door. He took him to Zara for a suit and gave him one of his Hermes ties. The maître d’ trained him on how to welcome the various important guests, open their car doors, and help them into the restaurant. Sirio was right: this is the guy you want at the front door, not hidden in the back of the operation. 

There are 7 traits that are essential to service superstars. It is unlikely that one person will have all 7, but see if you can find 2 or 3 or these traits in your new hires or in your existing team members, you can identify and groom the stars in your operation and ensure that the most hospitable folks are out in front, wowing your guests. 

Here’s a way to spot these 7 traits: As part of the hiring process (and also as a way to connect with your existing staff members) ask your candidate to tell you a story. It could be a story about how they helped someone make something better; how they helped a team member; how they stood up for the business; or how they stood up for a guest or an absolute stranger. There are many ways to get someone talking authentically. And how they tell the story will demonstrate how they feel about others.

Look for:

  • Eye contact
  • Kindness and decency
  • Empathy and an interest in connection
  • A willingness to help others
  • Curiosity
  • Humor
  • A smile

If someone can share a story with you while looking you in the eye, taking pride in the outcome of their efforts, and demonstrating empathy for others, you might have a superstar on your hands. Make this storytelling a part of your hiring process so you can see if there might be a superstar in the making.

Remember: you can always teach the hard skills of restaurant work. Everyone can move up and develop their skills if they are curious and willing to learn.

Harri's Summer Series: Recruitment and Branding 

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August 2nd marked the third and penultimate session of Harri's Summer Series. Due to a high volume of attendees, we hosted two sessions:  an interactive breakfast discussion and a round-table dinner. Put shortly – it was an extremely productive day for all involved!

At the breakfast event, attendees from brands such as Cote, Mitchells & Butlers, wagamama, and ETM Group gathered together in the beautiful Marx room at Quo Vadis Soho on a sunny summer day in London. The group was comprised of more than 20 recruiters from leading restaurants/pubs and hotel groups, guest speakers from Indeed, The Prince's Trust, and several members of the Harri team. 

The Harri Summer Series is all about the Employee Value Proposition (EVP): how we, employers within the hospitality sector, can make our people feel valued during the hiring process as well as in their roles.  Our sessions break EVP down into 4 pillars: Compensation & Benefits, Recruitment & Branding, Performance & Development, and Engagement. 

This session, which focused on Recruitment & Branding, was hosted by Cleo Clarke (Global VP of HR Strategy & Development at Harri). It began with introductions and splitting the group into teams of four. After the surprisingly difficult task of ‘name your team’ was complete, the session was in full swing! (We'd like to crown ’Hospitality Hotties’ as the winners of the name game.)  

The teams were asked to spend 10 minutes discussing 4 topics - Candidate Experience, Recruitment Process, Employer Branding, and Recruitment KPIs - focusing on best practices and innovation.  

The mix of industry vertical (restaurant/pub/hotel) and company size (small scale/multi-site/global) within the groups turned discussion into debate on the differing visions and strategies a brand could have with regards to the four topics mentioned above. We decided to take the best ideas from each group (or, as we like to call them, the best 'nuggets') and summarize them for you below. Here are our golden nuggets! 

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How should you ensure your candidates have the best possible experience when applying for your brand? 

  • It’s about the candidate - not you. Interview candidates at the site they will be working at, or go to them. Don’t make them come to you for convenience! 
  • Think ahead. It’s not just about the day of the interview – understand the candidate's career progression beforehand in order to help them see and believe there is a future for them with your brand.
  • Scrap the traditional interview. By making candidates fill out endless forms, are you just going through the motions? Get creative with your interviews to make the process engaging and in alignment with your brand.
  • People understand and trust their peers. Have prospective managers meet other managers during the interview process. 
  • Create a relaxing environment for prospective team members. They may be nervous and you'll want to alleviate this as best you can. 
  • Give your general managers a voice in the hiring process to help prioritize positions and find the right people. They probably have a better understanding than you of who is needed.
  • Make sure you have the right "recruitment toolbox" in place. Having the best resources on hand will make the process seamless. 
  • Survey your candidates after the recruitment process to learn from your mistakes and build on your successes. 

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What does your current process look like? Is it in line with U.K. regulations?

  • Right to Work: do it at the first opportunity you have (i.e. at interview stage).
  • Ensure your managers are trained on and understand GDPR.
  • Ensure there is consistency throughout the interview process.
  • Think ahead to whether factors like seasonality, time of year, site location will cause any challenges in the recruitment process. Solve these problems before they occur.
  • Implement a two-stage interview for team members and a three-stage interview for managers.
  • Promoting the position internally should always be part of the initial process!

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How important is employer branding? The perpetual struggle between consumer and employer marketing needs to end. How can we end it, and why do we need to? 

  • Your employees are your consumers (and vice versa); therefore, employer branding matters.
  • Align your employer branding with the vision your company is trying to create. Are you a large brand that wants consistency, or are you trying to be independent and sustain individual identity per site? Hire people who encompass and help define your vision.
  • Don’t shout about yourself – let others shout about you through reviews, social media, referrals, and word of mouth. Let them promote you!
  • Employer brand vs. talent brand is a concept that Indeed practices. The employer brand is what the leadership team looks to create for their employees from the top-down. The talent brand is the reality - how your workforce feels, who they've become, and how they've grown by joining your brand. Focus on your talent brand and then try to connect it to your employer brand. 
  • Employ the three C's of messaging: Concise, consistent and catchy. The Prince's Trust slogan, ‘Youth can do it,' is a great example. Their message is displayed everywhere - down to the kitchen mugs - which really motivated the team and brought the message home.
Employer Brand is certainly important, but equally, it’s crucial to know what employees are experiencing every day. I call this the Talent Brand.
— Matt Price, Indeed
Employee branding Is your employees – it needs to come from within.
— Louise Gallant, Gallant Recruitment

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In the recruitment process, everyone has the standard KPI, including time-to-hire and candidate source. What else can we target? 

  • Focus on the quality of candidates, not the volume.
  • Have a family tree for your business so candidates and employees can see where they fit in and understand how they can grow. 
  • Good candidate experience should be a KPI - survey candidates to measure this. Good candidate experience is the strongest indicator of a great brand to work for!
The staff that stay with the company the longest are those who have been referred from within.
— Stephanie Latham, ETM Group

The session ended on a high note, as select attendees presented their group's takeaways to the larger audience. Everyone left with at least one action item for their business.

The top takeaway was that we all face the same day-to-day challenges within our recruitment and branding processes. Coming together to brainstorm how to overcome them and stay innovative in the competitive, fast–paced hospitality landscape was icing on the cake!

We would like to extend a special thank you to our guests Matt Price from Indeed and Bob Clewley from The Prince's Trust! Here is a recap of what they had to say: 

Matt Price, Indeed: 
Matt asked everyone in the room who had heard of Indeed or had been on the site to raise their hands – unsurprisingly, everyone did. Interestingly, the number of hands raised halved when Matt asked who could actually explain the Indeed model (how it works and how clients are charged). To learn more, connect with Matt at mprice@indeed.com.

Bob Clewley, The Prince's Trust: 
Bob started off by stating that while everyone knows the Prince's Trust as an organization that does ‘good stuff,' not many people realize that it works very closely with the hospitality sector. Get Hired is a team within the trust that helps and supports young people by coaching them through mock interviews and providing them with training and guidance. Get Hired aims to match hospitality companies with these young, talented individuals who are determined to get into a career within the sector. The team is free and events where employers can meet potential candidates are hosted once a month. If you would like further information, or if you cannot attend an event but have vacancies that need filling, please connect with Bob at Bob.Clewley@princes-trust.org.uk