or wait 15 seconds
or wait 15 seconds
By Dana Cohen/Unilever Food Solutions North America corporate chef
As we roll into Thanksgiving this week, it's a good time for pizza brands to give some concentrated thought to ways they can support their in-store employees at a time of year that can leave everyone's tanks depleted. Toward that end, the industry-supported #FairKitchens initiative is providing resources to help chefs and operators address mental health, substance abuse and workplace retention issues in professional kitchens.
In an industry where so much emphasis is placed on creating a positive customer experience, #FairKitchens recognizes the need to keep staff mentally healthy and happy during this time of year to help them deliver the best experience to customers. Right now, that means ensuring employees aren't experiencing burn-out from their holiday schedules.
The demands of any restaurant — including pizza concepts — require kitchen and service staff work hours that often conflict with others' time off. This can impact a kitchen team's own abilities to get enough downtime with their families and friends. And that often can result in feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Here are some ways #FairKitchens suggests that pizza brands can help their most important customers — their own employees — enjoy this season of celebration right along with those they work so hard to serve:
"We all know that restaurants have slim margins and the hours are long, but that doesn't mean everyone has to work five days a week," Valley Bar + Bottle co-owner Lauren Feldman said of her brand's efforts around giving employees adequate time to relax during the holidays. "By offering a four-day schedule to managers and other salaried employees, the hours are still long, but recovery is long, too. People are more likely to be on their A-game when more rest is encouraged."
At Compagnie des Vins Surnaturel, Wine Director and Managing Partner Caleb Ganzer said the brand has found success using an approach that gives employees several consecutive days off.
"We try to make sure days off are sequential for our full-time staff," he said. "We also do our best not to deny any requests off. As a team, we are all at our best when everyone is well-rested and spends time with family and friends.
"These opportunities create enriched, happier people, which makes our team stronger and the work environment that much healthier."
Buck Hill Falls Director of Food and Beverage Joe Tripodi said the intensity of kitchen work can often burn team members out before those 40 hours a week are up.
"To keep our team motivated, we normally run a 32- to 36-hour work week," he said. "After a certain amount of hours you're simply not productive, and we want to make sure our team come in refreshed and ready to go.
"This isn't always possible in busier times, but it's about being flexible."
So the bottom line is for pizza restaurateurs simply to take time to consider their schedules. Are there ways you could tweak yours to give your team some much-needed "refresh" time? If not, what other ways could you use to make your kitchen fair(er)?