Industry News | August 19, 2009

Fix Labor Problems in Six Months

Shawn Boyer, founder and CEO of SnagAJob.com, an hourly employment Web site, recently released a book, Help Wanted & Help Found, designed to help employers recruit hourly workers—and how to improve their business by doing so. QSR’s Sam Oches spoke with Boyer about the book and how it could help quick-serves lower their turnover rate, especially in a tough economy.

QSR: Why did you write the book? What is your desired result from the book?

Shawn Boyer: The reason behind the book was that we obviously work with a lot of companies that hire hourly employees and then, on the flip-side, lots of hourly job-seekers looking for work. When you look at America’s working population, 60 percent of it is made up of hourly workers, which a lot of people don’t realize. Then you go [to] see what materials are there for employers to help them with that recruitment process. There really isn’t anything. There are a couple out there, but not nearly what there is on the salaried level side. So we felt like, based on our experience … you know we work with a lot of phenomenal companies, we’ve been able to learn a lot around the best practices of how to recruit on those right-fit people, and the importance of being able to do that. So we wanted to kind of fill that void there. And the desired purpose of the book would be to help employers realize the importance of the hourly employee base and getting those right-fit people into those positions.

It’s not as if we’ve got every single answer, but it’s more of pulling different people’s experiences with how they’ve done it and how they’ve been successful in it, into more of a workbook type of approach. And then prompting people with questions at the end of each chapter around these key objectives, different strategies, specific tactics, and just maybe making them think about things for the first time, or at least helping them think about things a little bit differently. An example of that would be, “What are your top three objectives in your hourly recruitment strategy?” It’s been amazing to us as we’ve asked that question to a lot of different employers how many people have not been able to clearly articulate what their three most important objectives are, and then what the benefits of that would be to the company if in fact they would be able to achieve those objectives.

So it’s a textbook for employers who have hourly employees?

That’s exactly right.

How has this all changed with the economy? Did you start writing this book before the recession or did you write it with the recession in mind?

We started writing it right at about the time everything started to go, so a lot of the writing happened during the course of it. I would hope at least that these are strategies that you’re going to have in place regardless of what’s going on with the economy, and certain aspects of it may be easier in a downturn, and certain elements may be harder when you come out of it. Obviously when you’re in a downturn you don’t have people turning over at quite the rate, or at least voluntarily turning over at quite the rate because they’re nervous of whether or not they can find another job, so they may be less [willing] to not come back to work one day if they get ticked off at the boss. [The economy is] going to force people to be better employees because they know they’re at a higher risk of being laid off, and they’ve got lots of overqualified people applying to certain jobs. So, the economy’s certainly going to have an impact on different elements of it, but I think the fundamental aspects of the book still are worthy regardless of whether or not we’re in a bear market or a bull market.

Do you think the quick-serve industry would benefit especially? There’s the old saying that you’re going to be ‘flipping burgers’; if quick-serves follow these steps, do you think they could rescue that reputation and reformulate what the idea of a quick-serve employee is?

I think so. There is that element. You have companies like [Chick-fil-A] that have bucked that stereotype, so you know it’s possible. I just did a ride-along to five different Burger Kings with some folks from Burger King, and it was amazing to me. You walk in the door of a place that was well-run—and they wouldn’t tell us prior to going into the location what turnover rate they had—you could tell as soon as you walked in the door and you met the manager which ones had bad turnover and which ones had good turnover, because of the way they ran that place and because of that manager’s philosophy on things. At the end of it they’d tell you what the turnover rates were and you’d go, “Well, makes sense.” We went and met with one Burger King, and the manager there was awesome. And he had a turnover rate that was like 40 percent. He knew every single person in his location’s name. He said, “Every single employee here, we celebrate their birthday. Give them a birthday cake.” He said, “For one of our guys here, that’s the first time he’d ever had his birthday celebrated his entire life.” He said, “I tell them, ‘Don’t steal. If you guys need something to eat, fine, come tell me and I’ll give it to you, just don’t steal.’” There are just some real fundamentals that he did and how he went about his recruitment process and his interview process was just a much different approach than what it was in places we went that had a 340 percent turnover.

If a quick-serve operator was interested in approving their business, how long does the process take to go about doing your steps? How long after implementing these things before they start to see some benefits from it?

Three to six months. Three months you start to feel it, six months you start to see it. In fact, this guy I was just mentioning was a great example of that. He had a higher turnover rate a couple of years ago, north of 100 percent … He said it took him six months before that turnover rate started to come down.

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