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8.26.21- Fast Casual Рby Shahpour Nejad

Pizza Guys CEO Shahpour Nejad explains his company’s approach to employee hiring and retention and why it’s important to listen to employees’ needs and expectations.

In recent months, the alarms of labor shortages across the United States have begun to cry louder and louder. The news is chalked full of articles and segments explaining why there’s a labor shortage nationwide and the economic impacts associated with it. While many companies have resourced alternative options to temporarily repair the tension between employers and employees in the hospitality industry, we at Pizza Guys have taken a different approach.

Before starting Pizza Guys, I spent my days working in a small pizza shop while attending school in pursuit of a mechanical engineering degree. During my tenure at the pizza restaurant, I fell in love with the industry, from making the pizzas, to serving customers, to creating new menu items: I loved it all. But I recall the challenges associated with working a minimum wage job while trying to build out my life. I can relate with our employees in a way that many business owners cannot.

Rather than cutting corners and overlooking the root of the problem, I find it essential that we listen to our employees’ needs and expectations out of their employer. I’ve ultimately strived to make Pizza Guys feel more so like a family rather a business. I want my employees to know they are appreciated and supported. I want to invest in their happiness, and that begins with ensuring that they are satisfied with their workplace. While many believe there is a labor shortage, the truth of the matter is that there simply aren’t good enough jobs.

Raising wages

First and foremost, we raised the minimum wage of our employees. About 1.1 million hourly workers earned wages that were at or below the minimum wage last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there are many more millions of workers who earn just above minimum wage. We want to move away from such statistics, understanding that providing a more livable wage to our employees will contribute to more than their financial well-being, but overall happiness.

We want to nurture our employees, not only encouraging growth within the Pizza Guys brand, but throughout their personal life as well. To reiterate this, we additionally raised the wages of the current staff at Pizza Guys across all levels. Without our current employees, Pizza Guys would not be the brand it is today, touting the reputation of providing high level customer service. It is our goal to continue to encourage our employees to work hard and work their way up the business ladder at Pizza Guys.

We’ve found that by increasing wages we have had success in both attracting and retaining our team members. When you demonstrate that you are invested in your employees, they return the favor, investing in their work and ultimately growing the brand.

As the pandemic has caused a shift in the workforce, particularly within teams across the hospitality industry, we’ve made an effort to rebuild reliable teams across our locations. In doing so, we’ve offered new hires an additional hiring bonus following 90 days of employment. We believe that this demonstrates our seriousness in retaining employees who are interested in becoming a part of the Pizza Guys’ brand. Additionally, we want to show our current employees that we are committed to surrounding them with a reliable team that can grow as a single unit. The majority of employee turnover within the hospitality industry occurs within the first three months of employment. At Pizza Guys, we want to remove that number and show our employees, new and old, that we want to see everyone succeed.

Referral bonuses

We trust and believe in our current employees, allowing us to become the brand that we are today.

To show our appreciation, in addition to demonstrating our trust, Pizza Guys has begun to offer a referral bonus to employees who recruit new team members. We believe that good people will attract good people, and ultimately, that’s all we’re looking for in new team members.

Work life

At Pizza Guys, we understand that work provides more than just an income, it provides a lifestyle. Perhaps the most important steps we’ve taken to ensure our employees’ happiness is within the walls of our restaurants.

We have made strides to create and maintain an environment of open communication, encouraging employees to provide feedback on how we can improve their work life. In listening to their feedback, we’ve already made changes accordingly. After the last year and a half, our employees have expressed the stress they’ve experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We want our employees to enjoy work, so we have made an effort to liven their work environment, making work feel a little less like work, creating fun. Additionally, we’ve begun to include shift meals to express our appreciation and remove one additional stress factor in our employees’ everyday routine.

These changes have already begun to show us the positive results that we hoped for. As discussions over labor shortages continue to circulate, I encourage companies to think about their employees and the value they hold, investing in them and their futures.