Harri & Only a Pavement Away : Coming Together to Fight the Candidate Crisis and Decrease Homelessness

Only a Pavement Away held its inaugural conference on Tuesday the 19th March. This unique organisation acts as a conduit between charities and hospitality operators with the aim of getting the homeless, ex-veterans and ex-offenders into employment. There are an estimated 32,000 homeless people in the UK and another 5000 who sleep rough every night. The conference saw the industry come together to debate and discuss how as an industry, we can play a major role in the government’s initiative to end rough sleeping by 2027.  The event was co-hosted by the Only a Pavement Away charity & by consultancy Think Hospitality. Panellists included industry experts, politicians, leading operators and journalists.

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It’s no secret that those who have been or who are homeless face obstacles to entering the labour market. Dulal Ahmed, Employment Services Manager at Crisis stresses the need for a change in approach to the homeless crisis – employment being at the root of it:

It’s a win-win approach. Employers gain access to a previously untapped yet motivated pool of staff who just want to be given a chance to get on in the world of work. They already have tenacity from overcoming hardship, they just need people to believe in them’. Ben Stackhouse, CEO of Pub Love added: ‘By taking a chance on someone and believing in them when nobody else does, you are gaining unrivalled loyalty from that person in return’.

In the past, there hasn’t been an organisation which connects charities that deal with the homeless and ex-homeless directly to willing employers. More importantly there haven’t been open roles readily available to these vulnerable individuals….until Only a Pavement Away.

Ex-homeless journalist Ed Mitchell spoke to us about his time on the streets as a result of alcoholism. He lost his job and his family in an instant. Many of the audience were close to tears at his admission that despite getting his life back on track, he is fighting a constant battle to stay on the right side of a very fine line and that at any given point he still feels ‘only a pavement away’ from being homeless again:

Rents go up, but benefits stay as they are. Ironically the 1-bedroom studio I have ended up in is right above a liquor store. Without a purpose and a steady source of income, no matter how hard I try, I will end up right back where I started.’

During the six-month period that Ed was homeless, when trying to seek help, he never spoke to the same person twice. The process of trying to resolve his situation was extremely disjointed and felt impossible. He stressed: ‘Throwing money at problems does not solve anything. Solutions need to be thought out in advance and the people involved behind the scenes need to cooperate. If not, all the good they are trying to achieve will never happen. He concluded by thanking Only a Pavement Away for thinking differently. ‘Bringing like-minded employers together who can offer us employment gives us hope that we can actually sustain the life we are working so hard to rebuild’.

Next to speak was Magistrate David Apparicio, now founder of The Chrysalis Programme, a development course aimed at preventing reoffending.  He believes that our justice system is broken because it consists solely of negative reinforcement which alone, will never produce a positive outcome. David went on to tell the story of a man who he once faced in court. The man had stolen a sandwich from a supermarket because he was too broke to buy one. The only punishment David could give him was ironically a £50 fine.  As a result of processes like this, ex-offenders often re-offend in order to pay off their sentences and consequently David see’s the same people in court time and time again. Out of the 5000 rough sleepers on UK streets, 1650 of them are ex-offenders. How does this link to our industry and the objective of decreasing homelessness...? Because 75% of people are less likely to re-offend if they get a job. ‘It’s no wonder that Only a Pavement Away have chosen ‘Stability through Employment’ as their mantra.

The conference also marked the launch of a new logo for the charity.

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With help from the Black Arts Company, you will soon see this logo stencilled across the pavements of the UK, reminding us that jobs for people who need them are in fact ‘only a pavement away’. Future objectives of the charity include getting 300 people off the streets in one year and creating training kitchens that homeless people or those in danger of homelessness can access to learn and develop useful skills.

This concept ties in nicely with Fred Sirieix who spoke about the idea of treating prisons like schools where life values and skills can be not only taught but developed in the time that would otherwise be wasted. The First Dates and Million Pound Kitchen star drew on his childhood and how great parenting and teaching shaped the person he is today, instilling in him great attitude and values. He concluded by telling the audience that: ‘making the world a better place involves taking action’.

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When Emma Osborne, Regional CEO of Sodexo Probation and Reemployment asked women prisoners their opinion on going into employment after being released, their response was excitement and delight with the only reservation being apprehension of the interview. Organisations like Only a Pavement Away inform employers of the applicant’s prior situation, therefore questions such as ‘where were you before this?’ can therefore be avoided/ treated with caution. Emma tells the audience that she is a huge advocate of the program but needs to see more jobs being posted.  

Harri is the applicant tracking system of choice for Only a Pavement Away. We have given our ATS to Greg and his team at no cost, so that employers can post jobs out to the charities that represent the ex-homeless, ex-veterans and ex-offenders. By doing so, we hope to encourage our clients and all other hospitality employers to join the scheme, and post any jobs they think could be applicable to someone trying to rebuild their life and re-integrate into society. It’s important to note that these prisoners have not done anything violent. Crimes such as stealing will have gotten them in trouble, which we are not accepting as OKAY but are simply providing a way for the cycle to be broken and for people to gain back stability. We also want to equip operators with motivated talent so they can fight the ongoing candidate crisis our industry is currently facing.

Tim Foster of Yummy Pub Collection has been hiring individuals through homeless charities for a while. With hindsight, Tim tells us that as an employer, getting involved in schemes like this is far from easy because you can never assume things are always okay. Whilst the staff Tim has hired have been hard working and committed, they are all fighting their own inner battles and without continuous support, can feel very overwhelmed by employment. Hearing from The Ivy Collection, Brewhouse Kitchen and Young’s Pubs who have all hired people through Only a Pavement Away, the lesson learnt is that despite all the effort; it HAS been worthwhile.

Hospitality is not a job, it’s a career. If we can decrease homelessness, lessen the candidate crisis AND give people lifelong stability…well, then we’re doing something right!

 

Harri and New York City Hospitality Alliance Launch New Digital Platform to Combat Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace

NEW YORK, NY (February 21, 2019) – Harri, the next-generation software solution that helps hospitality businesses build, manage and engage their teams today announced, in partnership with the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a new digital anti-harassment and discrimination training platform for restaurants and nightlife establishments. The platform will provide hospitality-relevant training modules for employees, using a curriculum developed in partnership with Fox Rothschild LLP that fully complies with the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act.

“Acts of harassment and discrimination have no place in our people-centric industry,” said Luke Fryer, Founder and CEO, Harri. “Aside from the entertainment industry, no other professional community was as seismically impacted by the #MeToo movement. The operational realities of the hospitality workplace require a more intensive and curated approach to educating our employees regarding workplace behaviors. The potential for damage is significant to both employees and owners, which is why Harri is taking an active role alongside our partners at the New York City Hospitality Alliance to help our clients mitigate risk and improve the integrity of the restaurant workplace.”

The platform, a module within Harri’s TeamLive workforce management suite, will comply with New York City and State requirements and will exceed the minimum legal standards by covering anti-discrimination laws. In doing so, the platform is intended to help cover two of the industry’s biggest blind spots. With the rise of minimum wage impacting profitability and a seemingly unstoppable onslaught of employee-related legislation, the industry requires a comprehensive solution to risk mitigation and help in ensuring that restaurants are a fair, safe, and welcoming place to work. Specific features of the platform will include:

  • Training Customized for the Hospitality Industry

  • Content Covering Anti-Harassment and Discrimination

  • Streamlined Platform Providing Legal Compliance

  • Audit-Friendly Functionality Providing Employee Completion Status and Record

  • Platform will be available in both English and Spanish

“We must stop sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and help ensure our members comply with the newly enacted anti-harassment training requirements. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Harri to provide restaurants and nightlife establishments a high-quality training program that’s customized for the hospitality industry workplace,” said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director, NYC Hospitality Alliance.

The platform will be hosted by Harri and available starting April 2019.

Harri's new HQ welcomes Recruiters with a Breakfast Session on Recruitment & Sourcing!

On Monday 22nd October we took the opportunity to showcase our brand new headquarters by hosting a Tips and Tricks breakfast on Recruitment & Sourcing. The session was led by Cleo Clarke - Global Vice President of Human Resources, Strategy & Development for Harri and was attended by 16 industry representatives.

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After everyone arrived and settled in, time was spent discussing the following topics:

  • How to build an effective recruitment strategy

  • Why employee referrals are the most powerful source of finding candidates

  • Implementing the right practices that optimize resume review

  • What it means to network effectively and efficiently

Through sharing internal processes and opinions on the above topics, we were able to openly debate and discuss strategies, strengths and weaknesses with one another - learning and improving from our industry peers. By the end of the session, problems were overcome and innovative solutions had been created to keep up with the ever-changing HR landscape.

Thank you so much for the opportunity and for inviting us to break bread with you. I truly enjoyed it. Talent Acquisition Manager M & R Hotel Management

By the end of breakfast, the espresso machine had definitely been broken in and clients left the Harri HQ with full stomachs and something to think about….

Such a wonderful breakfast today- thank you for hosting! Senior Manager, Human Resources Standard Hotels.

Putting the new Harri kitchen to good use, we hired a private chef to cook up a storm! The event lasted two hours and was a huge success! Frittata and bacon aromas filled the air whilst Harri staff served out the food and drink, giving the session a warm and friendly feeling.

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Harri On the Rise...Why We're Celebrating

This quarter has been tough on our competitors in talent technology platforms. There’s news of consolidation, leadership changes, and potential layoffs -- all cause for concern. Meanwhile, here at Harri HQ, we’ve spent these past couples of months celebrating some exciting milestones and we couldn’t wait to share them with you:

Top Start-Up

Cue the fanfare! Harri has been recognized as a Top-50 Startup in the United States by LinkedIn. The professional networking site weighed factors such as interest in the company, engagement with employees, job interest, and retention to rank the most sought-after startups where professionals want to work and more impressively, stay. LinkedIn cited Harri’s ability to make life easier in the hospitality industry – a tough sector with one of the worst employee turnover rates – by owning all stages of the hiring process, from sourcing hotel and restaurant workers to managing employee schedules. What an honor. "Five years ago,” says CEO Luke Fryer, “we began the Harri journey with a vision of creating the next generation of broadly capable, industry optimized, employee management technology. This was and continues to be an audacious but increasingly achievable goal that's validated by moments like this."

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Growing Our Team

While the job market suffers elsewhere, we’re happy to announce that we’ve just hired our 100th engineer and are on track to double that number in the next 12 months. Finding and retaining a skilled engineering team means we can continue to develop a powerful suite of tools to help you with your talent needs, create seamless and user-friendly platforms, and deliver unparalleled customer service.

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Expanding Our Global Footprint

Not only are we growing our own staff, we’ve hit a fantastic landmark in growing our customers. Since launching in the United Kingdom in May 2016, we’ve acquired so many great brands as clients. In fact, we just recently signed our 50th customer – Dishoom!

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Dishoom is an Indian restaurant chain that pays homage to the old Irani cafes of Bombay. Inspired by true flavors of home cooked Indian food, Dishoom’s founders are re-creating the community hubs they have seen to exist in the restaurants of Bombay. Among their dozens of awards, The Sunday Times recently ranked Dishoom 36th in their ‘100 Best Companies to Work For.” We count ourselves lucky to have such an innovating brand on board - not only is the food sensational; they are pioneers of great candidate experience and we are excited to help them grow through their people!


Powered by Harri, Customers Expand

When we help you build and manage your workforce, you’ll find that you have much more bandwidth to focus on other aspects of your business. That’s why we’re so excited when our partners expand into new locations and concepts. We’re on the same team.

Take ThinkFood Group. We’re currently helping them with talent acquisition and management for their brand-new location in Disney Springs, Florida. The concept, Jaleo By José Andrés, will feature Spanish tapas, paella and sangria.

We’re also stoked to be a part of Snooze, an A.M. Bakery’s incredible growth. After a record six new openings in 2017, the chain is on pace for eight new restaurants this year and 12 in 2019. We recently spoke with their Senior Vice President of People Resources, Brianna Borin, to find out her best practices for ensuring quality talent management as the enterprise continues to grow.

“People are your biggest asset. The second you lose sight of that, things can go really wrong, really quickly -- especially if you’re growing as fast as we are as a company,” she recently told us. “You have to power those assets to be the best asset they can be. Use as many tools and resources that can aid you in doing that well. It’s really critical.” (Watch the inspiring conversation here.)

This is just a snapshot to share that we’re celebrating big wins in how we’re building, growing, and investing in the next-generation talent technology platform for hospitality. In spite of what you’re reading about the fate of some of our competitors, rest assured, the future is bright.

How do you keep a strong level of Customer Service whilst your business is rapidly growing?

Being part of a rapidly growing company is always exciting, but also exacting.

It’s completely normal to feel like there isn’t enough resource to deliver the excellent customer service levels expected of your business. Although this seems like a problem, it’s a great one to have and it is important to keep in mind that no matter what stage your organisation is at, the principles of great customer service always remain the same:

  • Listen to customers at various levels and functions of the business to gain invaluable insight to take action

  • Immerse yourself into who your customer is and what they do. In other words, see their world through their lens not necessarily from the more convenient perspective of yours

  • Determine the ‘need’ from the ‘want’. Both are important to the customer, but finite resource means that you need to prioritise. Ask yourself: What is required to make my client’s business work better; What are they looking to achieve?

  • Under-promise and over-deliver

  • Measure what you are delivering (NPS). This enables you to keep track of individual and team performance and quantify improvement. Seeing improvement is really motivating for employees and customers alike

  • Be honest. If something does not go well, hold your hands up and learn for the future

  • Take your customers’ ‘temperature’: talk to customers regularly to gauge where your service levels stand with them

  • Share any customer feedback (good or bad) with the relevant colleagues in your organisation in goodwill, in the constant quest to improvement.

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The only thing that is certain during growth is change, and in all likelihood what the position is now will have changed in six months’ time. Flexibility and nimbleness are key. Engrained within your mindset before any change is executed or any decision is made should be the question: 

Will this have a positive effect on the customer?

It’s often easy to get distracted by the ‘noise’ and forget that the customer comes first. If you build this question into your company culture, you’ll find it hard to go wrong.

Ultimately, great customer service will create your strongest brand advocates. Advocates being those who, when addressed will positively recommend your business to another business.  

Advocates are a necessity to most business development. It is therefore arguable that customer service has the potential to be the biggest driver of business growth. It should never be ignored during periods of success but instead nurtured and built up using the principles above.