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Chain LeaderEditorial Archives2005April 15 — Best Places To Work

T.G.I. Friday’s Nontraditional Benefits Offer Unit Managers Choice and Flexibility

Along with a slate of the usual employee benefits, T.G.I. Friday’s offers nontraditional benefits for managers such as an employee-assistance plan; legal assistance; tuition assistance paid for by the company; dining discounts; domestic-partner benefits; adoption assistance; a credit union; and flexible-spending accounts for health care, dependent care, parking and commuting.

No pet insurance? “Not yet,” says Anne Varano, senior vice president of human resources and communications for parent company Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. Carrollton, Texas-based T.G.I. Friday’s has 26,039 employees working in its 530 domestic units.

The chain’s vacation plan is “aggressive,” according to Varano. Employees receive two weeks of paid time off in their first year, three weeks in their second year, four weeks in their third year, and five weeks after five years. After 20 years of employment, and every five years thereafter, they get four weeks of paid time off for sabbatical in addition to their vacation time. Workers can also buy an extra week of vacation time at the beginning of each year and pay it off with payroll deductions.

After five years of work, general managers can expense up to $1,500 of their vacation.

Varano says the more choices managers have, the more likely they will hit upon something they really need. She emphasizes the importance of retaining managers to the environment and culture of the organization. “It’s about salary, compensation, benefits, training, environment, culture,” she adds. “Benefits is a strong component and an expensive one.”

In 2004, Friday’s unit-manager turnover was 23.4 percent, down about four points from 2003.

“We set a goal: In 2005, it’s 20 percent,” Varano says. “We have five key strategies; one is great people, great place, great work. We’re really serious about it. Talent is scarce. We need to keep it.”

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