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Focus on employee skills: From the Editor



When it comes to attracting and keeping employee, nothing beats paying a fair wage.

We were reminded of that truth by young Virgil Risi, our box-folding champ featured in these pages. Working in a pizzeria is about earning money, new skills and independence. 

But there are so many other reasons people come to this industry. As Karen Horton of Patrice & Associates Recruiting Specialists says, even after notching up post-secondary degrees, many have fallen in love with the hospitality industry. (Horton’s comment was made during our online roundtable on Managing Your Pizza Team – check it out on our video page at canadianpizzamag.com).

It’s becoming clear that employees must be given a path to succeed – whether they succeed as part of your pizzeria’s team or in other fields of work – or for that matter, other areas of their life – employees value the training you can give them and the chance to become independent. A 2018 CivicAction study points out that “soft skills” such as communications are least susceptible to economic disruption and highly prized by job seekers.

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As Adam Morrison of the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation said in a recent RC Show seminar on recruiting, “We don’t properly document the different skills employees learn and develop. Customer service, leadership, conflict resolution. We don’t celebrate this the way we should.”

That training can come in the form of specific skills, many of which are discussed in our profiles of young pizzeria owners Dylan Taylor and Matt Chung.

Chung says he prizes the communication skills he’s picked up working in and owning a pizza business. Taylor lists several specific skills: Dealing with the public. Time management. Taking instruction, following through on tasks. Being able to confront someone and ask for help. In his mind, even something as simple as giving an employee the responsibility of switching shifts with another employee teaches them interpersonal skills and can give them growing confidence.

These skills are highly transferable.

Taylor and Chung know what they’re talking about, having taken on the role of owner. They are motivated, ambitious, energetic and creative young men who recognize the value of these skills. 

It’s important that owner-operators and supervisors recognize and promote the value of each of these skills. 

That could be done in staff meetings and communications tools or on a whiteboard. Team members could be encouraged to add their own ideas about what skills they are learning – or want to learn. This employee feedback could be combined in a working document that may be updated later on.

These skills could be played up in help wanted ads, on social media and anywhere you reach out to the public. You could combine these. Giving shout-outs to team members is a solid, creative way to promote your business especially when face-to-face visits are difficult. How about posting short video of one of your employees talking about a skill they’ve developed as part of your team?

Technology is a skill area that deserves more recognition. As Sean Milks of Gabriel Pizza Franchise Corporation points out in our Canadian Pizza roundtable, young workers are highly skilled at video editing, using social media and marketing. We mustn’t underestimate the value of these skills to a small business. And we mustn’t underestimate the power of recognizing and praising them in staff.

Millennials and generation Z are a key part of this industry, with many entering the workforce through food service. But they are by no means the only employees to consider. As for the shortfall of workers, Mondor suggests focusing on new Canadians/immigrants as the people who can fill these jobs in the near future. 

Whoever you target as your next team member, promote the skills your pizzeria teaches and develops and you will be offering job seekers a meaningful work experience.