PRLA Restaurant & Lodging Matters Spring 2022

6 • PENNSYLVANIA RESTAURANT & LODGING matters • Spring 2022 CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Changing the Conversation: Focus on a “Great Place to Work” Culture FIRST AND FOREMOST, I want to thank those of you who are engaging with your local secondary schools and CTCs. As I mentioned in my previous column, education is the long game to overcoming staffing challenges and changing the industry’s perception. We must be relentless in our pursuit of encouraging young people to seriously consider our industry as a great career choice. The opportunities for growth and advancement are abundant. My focus this year is on workforce development and in this column I want to dive deeper into the “great place to work” culture that will help us recruit and retain top talent. I’m sure that you, like me, have had to debunk the industry’s reputation as a “live to work” one when onboarding new hires. Let’s flip that reputation from a “live to work” to “work to live” mindset. Some may believe that creating a great place to work culture can be costly and burdensome, particularly considering the escalating costs of doing business and hiring challenges. I would argue that now is the best time to reevaluate company culture and make adjustments. We are having to rely on our teams to overcome these challenges and it’s crucial that they feel valued and supported now more than ever. A competitive wage model with reasonable benefits is most certainly important, but in this column, I want to focus on the low or no cost items that can bring great value to the work experience for your teams. These items take thoughtfulness, time, and intention but carry immense value in fostering a positive workplace culture. Communication is the foundation of any company culture. It builds trust, engages employees, and creates transparency. • Openly share the challenges and successes of the business with the whole team and seek their feedback on both topics so they are invested in the outcomes. • Regularly seek feedback from the team on the culture you’re building so the talk and actions remain aligned. • Lead with intention so that every employee completely understands the mission and vision of the business. • Understand what your employees’ aspirations are by talking openly about their wants and needs and helping them develop pathways to achieving those goals within your organization. • Celebrate your team’s small and large successes publicly. Trust is another fundamental aspect of the great place to work. • Employees have each other’s back and work together with a “no job too small” mentality. • The environment is safe, where employees can ask for help and learn from mistakes with leadership support, as well as be trusted to do the right thing. I have learned, as many of you have, through trial and error but along the way I’ve been fortunate to pick up some pointers from leadership experts at events like the PRLA Leadership Forum and Annual Conferences. On another note, later this summer John Longstreet will retire from PRLA. It’s been an honor to work with him, but I’ve particularly appreciated his leadership and guidance as I entered the pathway to becoming chairman of the board. I wish him the best in his retirement and look forward to the road ahead. My best to all of you for a great summer and remember to take time for you and your families too! • The opportunities for growth and advancement are abundant. Tom Neely THOMAS A. STRAUSS INC. LANCASTER CHAPTER