The HR space is immense.  There are so many things to consider:  technology, cultural influence, globalization and so on.  Recently, HR Exchange Network editor Mason Stevenson had an opportunity to discuss some of these topics with Sara Ortiz, the Vice President of Human Resources at Five Guys Enterprises, LLC. 

Some of the highlights include:

  • Recruiting talent domestically
  • Expanding the Five Guys brand internationally
  • Multi-generation impacts on Five Guys Enterprises, LLC
  • The Murrell Family and the universal Five Guys culture
  • The Impact of Technology

Below is the transcript of that interview:

HR sign with four hands on a black background

Transcript

Mason:

So, first question:  what are some of the challenges you as an HR professional and your company are facing right now?

Sara:

Domestically, it’s a lot of focus on retaining and attracting our workforce.  Employment is really low. We have primarily an hourly workforce and so, we’re vying for a lot of the same individuals.  So, it’s really looking at what has our message been.  We’ve been very focused on our consumer-led branding, but what are we telling our potential employees and our employees and what are we doing for them?  So, that’s really domestically.  Internationally is just dealing with the build-out of international.  So, we have a corporate office now in Amsterdam and we’ll have corporate stores in The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.  So, it’s literally all areas tie to getting these stores open, getting people hired, and the huge compliance obstacles around it so… 

Mason

What is the process for identifying those issues?

Sara:

I don’t think we have any set up process. I mean each one kind of requires…

Mason:

Just unveils itself?

Sara:

Yeah.  You know… domestically, it’s a lot of working with recruiting L&D and our OPS partners on looking at the challenges that we’ve been having, and then also working with our COO and our head of marketing to tackle that.  Internationally, it’s all the different departments involved… outside law firms resources.

Mason:

So, how have you, and also your company, dealt with those issues?

Sara:

Oh, what is it they say?  Eating the elephant one bite at a time?  Internationally, it’s just turning to subject matter experts in the area.  So, domestically it’s a lot of working with some our internal partners.  Marketing has been working with an outside firm on infographics that we can build to show career path… so, it’s been a partnership between the two departments.

Mason:

So, let’s talk about technology.  How is that disrupting your practices?

Sara:

So, what do you mean?  Just like… disrupt it in a bad way?  Disrupt it in a good way?

Mason:

In a good way.  Like, you know, with Millennials they are using a lot of different platforms whether it’s social media or even through their learning practices; how they’re learning.  Have you folks employed technology in maybe learning for instance?

Sara:

Yeah, I have not really bought into this Millennial impact piece.  I feel generations are all pretty much the same when they’re in that age band.

Mason:

Oh, that’s interesting.

Sara:

I don’t really see like when I was nineteen I don’t see the night heroes now being that different than what they’re looking for.  I think it… I think as time kind of plays it out, I kind of feel like it’s been a hyped propaganda salesmanship on all this Millennial piece.  Technologies have changed all generations.  Even baby boomers deal with technology.  So, technology doe ebb and flow on what is the biggest focus so it’s us being on top of, I mean even Pinterest is being used for recruitment now and looking for jobs.  So, being on top of where people are going, but we’re finding it’s a wide range.  I’m a Gen Xer.  Xers use a lot of the different pieces as well.  So, it’s making sure we’re aware those who are interested in our space are going to be so that’s been probably the biggest push for us.  Everybody wants technology.  Paper doesn’t work.  We’re really behind on that.  We’re just now starting to get rid of paper, and so that’s gonna been a big push.  Again, you know texting capabilities is big across the board.  Can’t say that’s just Gen Xers because I got a Baby Boomer father who is all about texting and not talking on the phone.  So, it is really making sure that’s been a big struggle.  ATSs, very few have texting capabilities and that was a big definer for us and our franchisees were looking for as well.  We need technology who can support an infrastructure and that’s been slow going for us to get implemented… and that’s kind of across the board.  And a lot of the departments… you would implement a software piece that was going to work for a year ago and now we’ve already outgrown it.   So for HR we have now implemented Ultimate… so now an Enterprise HCM which will grow with us instead of us growing out of it, so we are just in the middle of that; working with employees and self branding.  It as our system and so it’s gone live on the HRIS and benefits side and so… so kind of really working towards that so.

Mason:

I find it interesting about your perception or your opinion on Millennials because I somewhat share it. 

It does feel like it’s oversold in a lot of ways.

Sara:

It’s… every year there’s like a new hype thing right and I just think it’s the newest thing.

Mason:

Well and I spoke to somebody earlier.   You know, I think the number is somewhere around 70% of the workforce is Millennials now.

Sara:

I don’t know if people really… the age range literally goes from kids well a couple years are older than then now all the way up to what would be like a year younger than my sister who is 34 I’m like that’s not a… that’s just a work age.

Mason:

Right.   And you look at it too… there’s a lot of… they even have this idea of the micro generation… like the people that fall in between Gen Xers and Millennials.   They call them Xennials…

Sara: 

The thing is… do 16 to 18 year olds vary that much?   Yes.  Technology has changed the vehicle in which they do things or the expectations on how quickly things would happen and in current state of affairs will impact things but I don’t… sixteen or eighteen year olds are not looking for pension.  If you offer it they’re not going to be looking for it… it’s just speaking to what all the different life even, age bands are going to be looking for and how well we… we can meet them.  And we’re a pretty young company… so while our leadership team may be Baby Boomers the majority of most of our management and younger our Gen Xers and younger.  So, it’s not a issue that maybe some other kind of companies maybe dealing with.

Mason:

Maybe a better way to look at it or a potential way of looking at it’s not so much generational in terms of from this age or from this year to this year.  Maybe it’s in terms of, you know, all 16 to 18 year olds… regardless of generation… they all act the same way.  We’re not all interested in the same things at that age and they don’t get interested in they’re much older.

Sara:

Yep, and we’re finding so for the bulk of our age groups that we hire at store level, which would be 18 to 30, they’re… that age group is wanting pretty much similar things in regards to flexible work schedules, ability for upward mobility.  They don’t want to be bored.  That’s a big one.  Being able to jump ship is very easy and I think that’s been around probably since the 90s.  Any loyalty to a company was probably gone in about the 60s and so I don’t think anybody expects that so, but we see very low turnover.  We’re below industry at store level and it’s at less than 10% of all store level so…

Mason:

You kind of talked about how your company’s harnessing technology so I won’t hit on that.

Sara:

We’re attempting to harness it.

Mason:

Let’s talk about let’s talk about some areas, but let’s only talk about from a cultural standpoint… since we’ve spent a little bit of time on the generational… so let’s start just cultural.   So what about the culture?  How is that in cross-culture… and I’m talking about your professional culture in terms of the cross cultural folks that you have working for you… because you’re super-global.

Hamburger patties on the grill with flames under

Sara:

So, our culture is the Murrell Family.   What you see in the stores, that experience, it’s high-energy.  It’s loud.  It’s very customer-driven.  Our stores have a clear culture on what Five Guys is; what it’s delivering… more fanatical on multiple different things.  And so that translates fairly well.  We’re not seeing a big concern culturally because we did bridge the gap with franchisees domestically and you can get a franchisee anywhere to buy into why they need to do these things away we tell them to do it.  That hasn’t been a major issue and actually we see a better result internationally than we have domestically.  The type of franchisees that we’re getting are different. Most of the ones internationally are really largely funded families in the Middle East or equity firms elsewhere who are very much behind what the Five Guys culture is.   Domestically, you know, it’s been a little bit of a learning curve on the type of franchisees that maybe first joined with us in the DC area and then it has evolved across the US and those probably had a little less volume in wanting to make changes.  So, I think we actually see less hurdles globally then we have domestically with wanting to put chicken into the stores or couponing, you know, doing whatever else that they would want to do to change it.  So, within our company… you know, it’s been a little bit of an experience setting up a corporate office in Amsterdam.  I was getting used to the culture of probably the amount of time off individuals take… because that’s not really Five Guys.  It’s 24/7 pretty much, but we have always taken approach of being very respectful of how cultures vary.  So one of our first things in to an area is getting to know the culture and making sure the US individuals going there are versed and what the expectations are so, but what you see in our store, that culture does not change and will not change anywhere.  The menu won’t change and hasn’t changed.  We’re very set.  A Five Guys in DC… it’s the same as California is the same in Dubai.  

Mason:

So it’s universal.

Sara:

It is very universal.

Mason:

What about from an employer branding perspective?

Sara:

So, we’re still trying to tackle that beast and we’re kind of a we’ve been talking about it.  Our CEO and our head of marketing or have always been very customer focus and so this has been in talks this year.  I’m really looking at how we’re looking at our candidates, what we’re doing with our employees, you know, really we’ve been looking at kind of being an employer of choice not necessarily chasing one but, you know, are we meeting the bars that we have gotten feedback from our employees that they want us to meet?  So, really looking at how well are we telling this story and that really hasn’t been… it was one thing when we were smaller and the Murrell family had a huge, direct impact and they were stores much more often and we had less of them that they really drove the culture and so there was this level of fanaticism an buy-in that they just… like if you’re around one of the boys and you can’t help but walk away energized.   But as we continue to grow… that scope is lessened and so less people have been able to work side by side with them even though they are heavily still involved in in the stores.  But how do we continue that culture from them and so that’s been a little bit of a learning curve for us.

Mason:

And the last one and then I’ll let you go eat… because I know you’ve got other things going on.  The same questions talking about onboarding and leadership programs from a cross-cultural perspective.

Sara:

So that’s something we’re looking doing now.   We’ve been very paper-based, so now having what it’ll be two ATSs and actually an onboarding module, which we’ve never had before;  being able to help with that process.  We’re looking at how we’re starting people, especially store level, so working with our training department on the videos that they have for them to get geared up and then making sure that we’re looking at the soft skills needed, whether or not we have buddy system program we should be putting in place to help with the retention, because our biggest turnover as for level is in the first 30 days.  So, how are we losing these individuals and why and what can we do?  Do we want to retain them, because is it hiring issue or is it a turnover issue and so we’re still in the midst of trying to assess that.  We have an L and D department now.   It’s about three years old.  We continue to grow that… offering resources to mainly GM and above on.  We are partnered with a company called Linda, which is owned by LinkedIn, and has lots of modules on that.  Working on utilizing the assessments to gather information on teams to work on how the teams are talking to each other and knowing their manager and their manager knowing their people; supporting those who are struggling by doing development plans and then PIPs and keeping a component of L and D in to that.  So, we’re also working on the soft skills to support them so… Our goal is if we have to term, and this is GM, and above a few GM’s.   We’ve exhausted every avenue that we can so we’re continuing to grow that piece as well.

Sending
User Review
0 (0 votes)