December 09, 2015

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Earls Restaurants Awarded #1 Best Employer in Canada

This has been a truly memorable year for Earls Kitchen + Bar

Earls Kitchen + Bar, a Vancouver based, family owned North American restaurant chain has been awarded #1 Best Employer in Canada in a Best Places to Work in North America study by Glassdoor, one of North America's largest jobs and career marketplaces, who conduct an annual gathering of unsolicited, anonymous comments and reviews from employees, past and present. Check out the full list of 2016 winners. 

Stan Fuller, owner of the 30 plus year old, 66 location Earls restaurant chain (BC, Alberta, Sask, Manitoba, Ontario, Bellevue, Denver, Miami, Boston, DC, Chicago) is thrilled with the award. Earls employs close to 7000 people, close to 6000 of those are millennials. The fact that those staff members were engaged enough (good and bad) to want to reach out and share their reviews says a lot for an industry that typically sees a 30% turnover rate in front line staff.

Adding to the honour, there are many firsts with this award, this is the first Canadian Glassdoor award given. This is also the first time a Canadian company been awarded the # 1 spot and the first time a food & hospitality company has received the award. Last year’s winner in the United States was Google and previous winners have included Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the Mayo Clinic. This year’s Canadian recipients include Apple, Starbucks, Microsoft and BC based Telus and Lululemon.

This award along with two extremely successful new restaurant openings in Chicago and Washington, DC in October and the excitement of two Earls Chef Collective members being chosen to represent Canada in as a part of Culinary Team Canada in the October, 2016 Culinary Olympics has made this a truly memorable year for Earls Kitchen + Bar.  

About Glassdoor

Glassdoor is one of North America’s most recognized human resources, employment and job feedback sites. The site, which addresses critical questions that come up during the job search, application, interview and negotiation phases of employment, started as a platform to review salaries and post jobs and has now developed to allow employees to anonymously give feedback. Glassdoor began tracking the comments to be able to apply the feedback to the employers, eventually creating The Employees’ Choice Awards.

With that they developed a careful series of algorithms to prevent comments from being able to be manipulated in any way and feel that the results are a very accurate reflection of how employees really feel about the company they work for. Now in its eighth year, it covers a range of categories, including Best Places to Work and Highest Rated CEOs relying solely on the input of employees, who elect to provide feedback on their jobs, work environments and companies.

For employers, Glassdoor offers recruiting and employer branding solutions to help attract high-quality candidates (Earls does not use or work with Glassdoor in Canada, preferring to do all frontline recruiting out of each individual restaurant). 

The Earls Culture

One of the many reasons that have been sighted for Earls' success is a program Stan Fuller put into effect years ago called "It’s Your Business". This allows the managers of the restaurants to have a very entrepreneurial approach to the day to day operations. This results in a feeling of empowerment, community and a uniquely customized approach to running a restaurant. Staff (or as we like to call them partners) know they have the support to bring ideas forward that can influence decisions and can directly impact the business.

The company has also been sighted for its innovations past and present; its need to change and stay current, and its ability evolve. No one probably knows that better than Mo Jessa, Earls President. Mo started at Earls as a night prep cook almost 30 years ago working his way up from regional chef to VP Operations and is currently the President of the 66 location and growing restaurant group. His experience over the years is interesting and his perspective on the employee culture, staff engagement and what it’s like to work for Earls is as engaging as it is remarkably frank. Says Mr. Jessa, “this site has afforded us a true perspective on our people. The staff writing in [to Glassdoor] do not hold back - the good or the bad. We keep an eye on the site to try to catch what we are doing wrong”.

Staff see a commitment to them far beyond the day to day operations in the restaurant. Young cooks are taken under the wing of a head chef where training and schooling can be provided to get them their professional Chef Certifications (Red Seal or ACF), Sometimes even knives, the toolkit of a professional chef, are given to them. Staff have the opportunity to create visions and set goals with mentors in leadership courses created by Earls that teach life skills and provide opportunities to ensure success in all aspects of their life and not just to improve their performance at work. 

There's often an alignment of values as well. Consciously sourced, sustainable food is as important to the staff who work at Earls as it is to the chefs. Staff are proud to work with the ingredients and become loyal guests of the restaurant themselves because of that.  

Perhaps one of the proudest moments comes outside the restaurants, where it’s a common occurrence to walk into a successful independent restaurant in BC or Alberta, where Earls has long been established, and have the owner, manager or Executive Chef walk up to Mo or Stan and thank them for the start they gave them. They thank them for the training, the culture that made them fall in love with the business and for the skills that are the backbone of what they went on to do in their lives.

With the company’s growth into new cities came the ambassador program. Top staff from every position and every restaurant are invited to help open a new restaurant. Staff willing, as many as 80 of them, have the oppourtunity to move to a new city for anywhere from two weeks to four months to help open a new location, train staff, and most of all share the guest driven culture of Earls. Travel, accommodation and meals are provided along with pay, and opportunities for them to experience the culture of a new city such as Miami, Boston, Washington, DC or Chicago.

For many new staff joining the company in those other cities, it’s an experience they haven’t had before. This includes supportive, fun, learning environments, one on one support from ambassadors during training and also sets the foundation to make them a great restauranteur whether or not they choose to stay with Earls or even remain in the restaurant industry- or sometimes it just makes them better people for having worked there.