A new report from Cornell University and Restaurant Opportunities Center United highlights examples of restaurateurs across the country who have created “win-win-win” solutions for workers, diners, and employers by using “high-road” employment practices.
Nationally, restaurant workers typically earn very low wages; 90% do not receive paid sick days, paid vacation, or health insurance through their employer either. The Cornell/ROC report highlights just how much those policies cost employers: between $4,000 and $14,000 per employee turnover. Costs include recruitment and screening, training, uniforms, admin, and unemployment insurance — as well as negative impacts on team morale, trust building, and relationships with regular customers.
The alternative is “high road employment”, which employers in this report define as practices that support workers and unleash their loyalty, creativity, and productivity to make the restaurant successful. Those practices include livable wages, a healthy workplace through paid sick days, vacation, or health insurance; and career ladders for employees through training and internal promotions policies.
Several prominent local restaurant owners were part of the campaign for a paid sick days ordinance in Seattle, citing the positive effects paid sick days have on the bottom line by improving morale, reducing turnover and reducing the spread of illness. The high-road employers interviewed for this study also reported that the benefits of increased productivity and reduced cost of employee turnover outweigh short-term costs of improving workplace practices. Summary | Full report