Essence Restaurant Group using a new plan forward

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We are now over 18 months into this pandemic and every company in every industry in every corner of the world is struggling with the same issue — people. More specifically, a lack of them in the workforce. A quick Google search will reveal that our global population has reached 7.9 billion, more than enough people for a healthy workforce, yet people are not returning to work. And we don’t really understand why. If we’re still struggling with wanting things to change back, it’s a futile struggle. We are still in a pandemic and must accept it by making a new plan today that will move us forward and create a new tomorrow.

As we move forward, we must first discern the difference between what we can control and what is beyond our control. As workers, I believe we have to accept that this is not going to change, and we absolutely must adjust our thinking and actions if we want to keep our doors open; it is beyond our control. Wishing and hoping for a different outcome is not an approach we can invest in any longer — we’re out of time on this one, my friends, and I believe what we are experiencing today will also be our tomorrow.

So, what do we do? We can start by focusing on the things that we can control. First and foremost, we can control how we react to our situation. Instead of creating more division, we can begin to find common ground. Every single person on planet Earth has been impacted by the pandemic — some have lost time, vacations, offices; others have lost businesses; and the most unfortunate have had to endure the devastation of lost loved ones or the loss of their own life. Most of us have hoped for things to return to normal, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we all understand at this point that no amount of hoping will make that so. Adversity is inevitable; learning and growing from adversity is not. However, it is within our control to reap the benefits, not just the pain, of adversity.

It’s time to face the constant of change by accepting where we’re at, shifting our perspectives and adapting. We can’t control the pandemic, but we can control our response to it. We can manage our thoughts, our actions and what we say. We can continue to focus on our values and further cultivate our character and culture. No amount of arguing or contributing to divisive conversations about how we got here is going to resolve this problem or help anyone.

What will help? Accepting what the current general culture is saying, how they are feeling and what they want the future to look like. I believe both a solid work ethic and more free time can survive simultaneously. And the owners and operators who can create this balance will be the ones who will thrive in the future. When we lead with our values and take some intelligent risks, we can create a stronger, more attractive work culture that the general culture is attracted to!

Improving the lives of those we serve is one thing within our control. Beginning in 2022, ERG will be offering all employees the following:

  • Full medical benefits to all full-time employees at a reduced cost.
  • Essence restaurants will close for the first week in January and the first week in July, giving all managers/chefs additional paid time off.
  • Highly competitive pay structure and flex work schedules.

I am hopeful that this change will matter to the people in our industry and will help improve the culture of the hospitality industry for the better — both for members and guests. Helping build transparency in our food systems, being part of something that matters and is greater than ourselves and improving the lives of those we serve and those who serve — these are things that we can control. And by doing so, along with leading with and living by our values, we can be a force of change that also creates value for our society.

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