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4 Restaurants Hailed As Winners For Best HR Practices

Restaurant HR analytics companies People Report and Black Box Intelligence announced 4 winners for the 2011 Best Practices awards at their annual summit, “People, Profits, Planet” held last November 3. The Best Practices award is given to restaurant industry players which are recognized for their success in building thriving workplaces in their company. This year’s recipients are Logan’s Roadhouse, Eat’n Park, McDonald’s and The Cheesecake Factory.

The 4 winners were selected from a list of 12 finalists which are part of the more than 100 chain restaurants of the People Report consortium–deemed as leaders in workplace diversity, management, hourly employee retention and year-over-year results improvement.

Awarded during the summit’s 16th Annual Best Practices Conference, the four restaurants represented every industry segment – casual dining, fast casual, family dining, quick service and upscale casual.

“These companies are known for putting their workplace practices as priority, the cornerstone of their entire market presence,” said Joni Thomas Doolin, CEO and founder of People Report.

In their article entitled People Report Best Practices Winners Share HR Tips, Nation’s Restaurant News asked the winners the practices that made their company’s human resource programs stand out from the rest in the past year.

Manager Certification

The fast casual segment was represented by Eat’n Park. “We were able to develop a certified shift-manager program, which we enhanced to certify the company’s hourly supervisors. We recognized their crucial role to management success since they cover plenty of shifts and has the capability to provide a lot of support,” said Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, Inc.’s senior vice president Karen Bolden.

“We intensified this program, and we found it really effective as it was able to reduce our management turnover. It helps a lot when we can lessen management stress with a team in quality aprons that is fully-staffed. They are trained in the classroom, which is extended through the restaurant. They take a test then get certified. We come up with a small celebration for them, too,” Bolden added.

Three C’s

In the casual dining segment, Logan’s Roadhouse was selected as winner. Christy Cox, the chain’s human resources senior director, said that what drives their effective results are what they call the “Three Cs”—compensation, culture and consistency. She also added that consistency extends to the leadership team, the regional managers, and overall communication of the organization.


McDonald’s, which represents quick service, focuses on alignment. Peter Mazza, McDonald’s USA’s senior director of measurement and strategy for U.S. human resources, said that the best thing for them at McDonald’s is alignment—getting everybody behind similar sets of actions in all their restaurants.

“We work very hard on communications—working with our operators and talking continuously with our managers,” he added.

Stay Interviews

The Cheesecake Factory was included in the list of winners, too, standing for the upscale casual segment. If others have exit interviews, The Cheesecake Factory has “stay interviews.”

Dina Barmasse-Gray, senior vice president of human resources, said, ”We give importance to people whom we want to stay, so we talk to them and discuss their level of happiness at work, and how satisfied they are. We ask them what it would take for someone to take them away from the company, and what are the things we can do to improve their experiences at work. The simple act proved to be very impactful, as the retention statistics of employees in elegant aprons who were given a stay interview was dramatically different from those who didn’t have one.”

The other finalists for the award were California Pizza Kitchen, BJ’s Restaurant Inc., Corner Bakery Café, The Capital Grille, Monical’s Pizza, La Madeleine, White Castle and Red Lobster.