Industry News | March 30, 2010

Working for Green

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EVOS, a quick-serve chain based in Tampa, Florida, is experiencing a growing trend in foodservice: employee attraction and retention because of its green initiatives.

“Our turnover rates are low because our employees are proud to work for a company that makes a difference,” says Dino Lambridis, co-founder of EVOS. “We attract employees mainly by word of mouth—we rarely advertise. Young people that share the same values typically spread the word about EVOS.”

Beth Colt, owner of Quicks Hole restaurant in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, also attracts workers to her seaside, summer restaurant by appealing to employees who are passionate about sustainability and want to be part of a company that shares their values.

“I always talk about our green perspective, and I find that it inspires job applicants,” Colt says. “Having the same people back even two years in a row is a huge bonus in terms of training time saved. Our being green has a positive impact on that because they post it on their Facebook pages and tell our customers.”

Having passionate employees on staff who are trained in energy-saving procedures and can spread the word to customers about those green initiatives can have positive effects on a brand.

According to Retail Systems Research’s (RSR) study Environmental Sustainability in Restaurants: 2010, the greatest opportunity for restaurant retailers is in messaging, specifically the ability to convey their green behavior to their customers. Sixty-six percent of restaurants surveyed by RSR said “customer awareness of organization’s green commitment” is the No. 1 opportunity of their environmentally conscious behaviors.

“I start the season with a ‘go green’ pep talk,” Colt says. “I highlight my efforts and then let them know that they are integral to the effort. Don’t leave water running, use the bio bags even though they tear more, and recycle as you clear.”

Ann Gentry, owner of Los Angeles vegan restaurant Real Food Daily, also says that her company’s reputation as a green restaurant attracts committed employees.

“They benefit from and take great pride in the knowledge that they are actively participating in a restaurant and, on a larger scale, a movement, that is helping to save the planet,” she says. “This has led to incredible retention rates among our employees.”

Lambridis says EVOS employees respond well to the commitment that the chain shows in its green initiatives.

“Our crew sees it as authentic and not something we are doing because it's cool,” he says. “Businesses should start small and allow employees to be part of the process, so they own it.”

By Denene Brox

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