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Chain LeaderEditorial Archives2005April 15 — Best Places To Work

Workplace Revolution
The great companies know that success in the marketplace requires excellence in the workplace.

Joni Thomas Doolin
CEO and Founder, People Report

While heated competition, dramatic corporate governance swings and shifting consumer preferences demanded operator attention during the past five years, the foodservice employment proposition and work-force composition have quietly undergone tremendous transformation.

The Hallmarks of Change
Diversity—age, gender and ethnic—now figures heavily in the competition and environment for both entry-level and executive talent. With employees of various ethnicities and generations working together, cultural clashes are inevitable and management jobs more demanding than ever before.

“Compensation and benefits” are morphing into “total rewards.” Benefits “cocktails” are necessary to contain costs yet meet employee needs. And the human-resource specialists who understand how to customize packages and stay within Sarbanes-Oxley guidelines are rock stars.

Technology such as integrated work-force analytics, quick-service call centers, and online capabilities for communication, survey and feedback make the job easier while increasing productivity. Technocentric training such as the LeapPad ESL system allows employers to engage employees in ways that elicit learning and loyalty.

Service learning and strategic community involvement have emerged as nontraditional team builders and crucial drivers of employee satisfaction and motivation.

Human-capital management, and the metrics that measure it, have moved from the human-resource department to the boardroom of successful companies.

Opportunities and Threats
These trends represent opportunities. Organizations that deliver valuable benefits and compensation, embrace and implement diversity as a core value, maximize investment in technology, and prioritize people practices from the boardroom to the front lines will weather this storm. Study the competition in this issue; they are prime examples of best people practices that are making a difference. However, a word of advice: There are other service-sector giants plotting to gain advantage at our cost.

Brad Anderson, CEO of Best Buy, cited service as the cornerstone of that company’s turnaround, stating “best service really means best employees.” Home Depot is courting older employees by forging a relationship with AARP. Lowe’s is targeting women as employees to gain an advantage with female consumers. Fortune’s Best Company To Work For is supermarket operator Wegmans Food Markets. The great companies know that success in the marketplace does require excellence and innovation in the workplace and are preparing for the rougher labor markets ahead.

Follow the Leaders
Business futurists, economists and human-resource experts agree that within the next year, we can expect a return to another tight labor market, as in late 1999 and 2000. Our solutions then came in the form of exorbitant manager-signing bonuses and inflated hourly wages. This time around, skyrocketing benefit costs and compliance with emerging regulations will preclude just throwing money at the problem.

Remember, all solutions don’t cost money. Dr. Covey says the biggest gap in business today is the lack of integrity and purpose. Workers are looking for leaders and companies they can trust. In any labor environment, if you give people a reason to come to work for you, they will.

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