The Competitive Advantage of Hiring a Diverse Staff
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The Competitive Advantage of Hiring a Diverse Staff

The Competitive Advantage of Hiring a Diverse Staff

Hiring a diverse staff is not an extra burden in a tight labor market. It should be what naturally happens if you’re hiring the best team you can, says Andrew Howell. He and his father own 19 Tropical Smoothie Cafes in Florida and hold licenses for three Another Broken Egg locations in the state.

For the most part, their Tropical Smoothies have been able to maintain stability in their work staff. It also helped that the cafes didn’t have to go through extended pandemic shutdowns. And often, they pay more than competitors, because, he says, “If you pay minimum wage, you’re going to get minimum results.”

Howell also credits the work environment he and store leaders have been able to create over the years. “Overall, we’re not having a lot of the same issues that I’m hearing from other people,” he says. “I think that’s partly because of the culture we’ve built and how we’re taking care of our people. Those things go a long way.”

For instance, when the most recent hurricane blew through, an employee’s car was flooded. Another had to vacate a damaged apartment. In both situations, the company was able to lend a helping hand. “There are things we’ve done that have helped us maintain our staffing when it’s difficult for everyone else. Those kinds of stories get out to the community,” he says. “If you take care of your people, they’ll take care of your business.”

Howell will soon complete the executive MBA program the University of Central Florida. He doesn’t see the labor shortage as a long-term problem, but rather as more of a medium-term one. Eventually, rising interest rates will mean fewer businesses getting built, tighter budgets, and less hiring. “The bigger the unemployment pool is, obviously, the easier it is to find people,” he says.

When it comes to hiring right now, some smaller businesses are having difficulties competing against larger companies, which can offer more perks. But Howell believes franchisees have something to offer to employees that the bigger companies can’t. And that, he says, is “having the feel that they know the owner, they know everyone involved. We can be small enough that it still feels personal. You’re not just a number.”

Finding the right fit can be more valuable than perks. “I love the phrase ‘The Great Resignation,’” says Howell. “I think that’s what we saw throughout the pandemic. We’re seeing a lot of job-hopping right now. I think that’s just people looking for a place where they can find a home. As restaurateurs, we need to be able to provide good, healthy environments where people will want to stay. Everybody’s paying more, but you don’t get a competitive advantage by paying more. You get a competitive advantage by being a better environment.”

Editor: This is part of an article on hiring in 2023 that appeared in Multi-Unit Franchisee magazine. Find the full article here.

Published: May 5th, 2023

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