The Quarterback of Your Restaurant: The Hostess

Hospitality Experts Series.png

When I am consulting to the restaurants I work with I see it again and again: the host is utilized merely as a friendly sentinel at the front of the restaurant and is tasked with answering the phone, greeting and seating guests and being nice to customers. While this is incredibly important, this is not the only purpose of this position. I wonder how many hosts are told: “your job is to make money for the restaurant”? Or “your ability to convince people to wait for a table when they walk in is the key to the restaurant’s success?” The host or hostess will always create the first impression of your business, in person and on the phone. But the host’s primary function is to make money for the restaurant by seating as many guests as possible between the opening and closing hours of the restaurant.

When you empower your host by telling him that his responsibility is to the bottom line it changes things; it creates a more level playing field on the team. Usually the host is on the low rung of the restaurant heirarchy. When the host is charged with impacting the bottom line, the servers and bartenders are no longer the only sales people on the floor. The hosts are now part of the sales team as they are ultimately responsible for making the sale by capturing the sale.  Once we make the hosts responsible for the bottom line we must include the bussers as well. Their ability to clear and reset tables makes it easier for the host to seat another guest and make more money for the operation. The runners contribute to this by keeping up the pace of the kitchen and ensuring that the food is paced out, the guests are served and no one is waiting for their meal to arrive.

It takes a team of people to serve just one guest and it takes a collaborative team to serve hundreds of guests a night.  When you can turn your host into someone with her fingers on the purse strings of the business it is ultimately profitable for your operation. And I have attest to the fact that being a host who knows she drives the business is way more fascinating, empowering and satisfying to her than just being stationed at the front and being nice. As an owner or manager, can really teach your hosts how the hospitality, kindness and etiquette they show to your guests can drive your bottom line in a meaningful and lasting way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Edwards is a speaker, author, customer service expert, and leadership coach based in NYC. She owns and operates Kate Edwards & Company, a boutique consulting firm that specializes in customer experience and leadership.

Navigating NYC's Temporary Schedule Change Law

Effective July 18, 2018, New York City employers are required to accommodate employee requests for temporary schedule changes for employee 'personal events.' 
What's the Definition of a 'Personal Event' Under the New Law?

  • The need for an employee to provide care to a minor child or individual with a disability under the employee's care who resides with the employee or is the employee's family member
  • The need to attend a legal proceeding or hearing for subsistence benefits to which the employee, an employee's family member, or an individual under the employee's care is party to
  • Any circumstance that would qualify for use of safe/sick leave under the New York City Earned Sage and Sick Time Act (ESSTA) 

When Can an Employee Request a Temporary Schedule Change? 

  • Employees may request a temporary schedule change to address qualifying personal events up to two times per year for the duration of no more than one business day, OR... 
  • Once per year for the duration of no more than two business days

What are the Steps to Requesting and Responding to Temporary Schedule Changes? 

  1. The Employee must notify their employer or direct supervisor as soon as they become aware of the situation and propose a specific schedule adjustment, stating the date for which the change was requested in writing and that the request was made for a qualifying personal event no later than within two days of returning to work.
  2. The Employer must respond immediately to the employees’ initial request, then respond no later than 14 days later in writing, including whether they agree to the temporary work schedule OR if they’ll provide the temporary change as leave without pay, as well as how many requests and business days the employee has left in the calendar year. (If the request is denied, the employer must provide an explanation.)

What Should NYC Hospitality Employers Do to Prepare? 

  • Examine attendance policies and staffing practices to ensure they comply with the Fair Work Week Act, the NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA)
  • Review paid time off policies to ensure they don't contradict any provision within the temporary scheduling law
  • Review manager and/or HR training practices to ensure all employees involved in scheduling understand the law and which requests for scheduling changes qualify under the new law 
  • Review scheduling and time tracking tools to ensure they are able to monitor the number of requests an employee makes and when requests are made

How Harri Can Help

At Harri, we provide extensive scheduling-related support for hospitality employers who are seeking ways to remain compliant under this new legislation.
Email and other manual channels of communication are unreliable, and not suited to serve as your primary means for communication. Here’s how we can help:

  • With the Harri Mobile Native app (available in both iOS and Android), employees can receive informative push notifications and in-app alerts that alert them to schedule changes
  • In the event an employee has a qualifying request, they can easily submit that request via our seamless messaging tools directly to management in real time
  • Automate the alerting process to employees by activating timecard change messaging. For more information on implementing this feature, please reach out to
  • Create powerful schedules that enable you to block time-off requests in order to ensure your labor demands are met each and everyday.

To learn more, reach out to

Diversity Training in the Hospitality Workplace


Years ago in the 1960s, the word 'diversity' started to gain traction. Starting in the 1980s, many major corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations began holding diversity training and rolling out diversity initiatives.

Today, diversity training is more important than ever, due to demographic changes; added dimensions and depths of diversity to include gender, race, ethnicity and
sexual orientation; and the '#MeToo' movement.

If you haven't already done so, it’s time for your organization to start laying the groundwork for a formalized policy that embraces and celebrates diversity and promotes inclusion.

As a minority, I have always looked to work for organizations that embrace diversity and have a proven method of ensuring that the culture of the company is committed to diversity; that their philosophy fulfills its obligation under the law as well as company policies and procedures.

Risks of Not Having a Diversity Strategy

If you don’t implement a formal diversity strategy, you run the risk of being viewed as a company that just isn’t in tune with the times. Equality in the workplace is top of mind for businesses, governments, regulators, society, and – most important of all – the vital talent that will drive our future success.

The hospitality world tends to be slower to move on these types of initiatives, especially in smaller organizations. Additionally, many programs designed to change cultures sometimes take longer than initially planned to implement - or they fail completely.

There may also be costs associated with legal compliance: Potential costs include record-keeping systems, staff training, and communicating new policies. However, the extent of these costs for a specific business will be minimal in comparison to the potential future cost (or loss) to your entire organization due to issues that could arise from not having such a policy in place. 

Benefits of Having a Diversity Strategy

There are many benefits to implementing a diversity plan. Today, people are constantly inundated with anti-bias attitude and behaviors. By generating awareness of diversity issues, it will bring about more cohesiveness in teams.

A formal diversity strategy also helps your company increase retention and reduce turnover. Businesses that fail to promote an inclusive work environment tend to have higher turnover rates. The failure to retain qualified employees results in avoidable turnover-related costs at the expense of a company’s profits. Having a diverse and discrimination-free work environment helps businesses avoid these costs.

The hospitality industry is also suffering from a recruiting epidemic. It is so difficult to find good, qualified talent. Diversity fosters a more diverse candidate pool. The ability to source candidates from the largest and most diverse set of candidates is increasingly necessary to succeed in the Hospitality market today.

Here are steps you can take to roll out your very own diversity initiative:

  1. Assess your present company diversity awareness. Make sure you have a strong understanding of where you are, where you want to go and where you want to be as it relates to a full diversity strategy and your company.
  2. Clearly outline expectations you have of yourself and others in the workplace in terms of creating a respectful, inclusive, and non-discriminatory environment.
  3. Gain knowledge and identify personal and work goals to help build a diverse and inclusive workforce.
  4. Ensure you have the buy-in of top management and the entire work population.
  5. Appoint a 'Diversity Champion.' This person will lead the charge on the diversity initiative and will assist you in meeting deliverables.
  6. Form a committee with lead members from every department.
  7. Establish a formal project plan. Ensure the project plan addresses questions such as:
    1. Where are we now?
    2. Where do we want to be?
    3. How will we get there?
    4. How will we know when we have got there?
    5. How will we know if we have been successful?
    6. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound)
  8. Know your audience. Not all work environments are the same. Different people require different types of training and materials. Avoid trying to adapt training materials created for other companies and not specific to your goals.
  9. Ensure you have established and rolled out initiatives that are engaging.
  10. Be sure to have weekly updates and wrap-up assessments after the training sessions.
  11. Ongoing examination of employment practices and policies that promote diversity.
  12. Continuous employment equity and diversity training and awareness programs.
  13. Ensure your workplace diversity policy is a living document.
  14. Lastly, be sure to utilize technology, as it will assist you in rolling out the training initiatives.

Remember: This is a process and will not happen overnight! You must be patient and trust the process. The companies that successfully implement diversity training and education of their staff are the ones constantly working to identify and address systemic barriers embedded within policies, practices, programs, and services that inadvertently exclude individuals or whole communities (bonus: they're also usually the companies that add to their bottom line). 

The guidance I've outlined above includes just a few of the tools and support you'll need to help you identify and address systemic diversity barriers to build a diverse and inclusive workforce broadly representative of the employees you employ and communities you serve.

So, go ahead and make your company a better place to work!


About the Author: Cleo Clarke is the Vice President of Human Resources Strategy & Development at Harri. Cleo is a senior HR professional and has held an executive role in the hospitality industry for more than 15 years. 

Product & Feature Updates: July 2018

We're excited to share our latest product and feature releases!

One-Touch Job Posting.png


Mobile Job Posting

Save time by posting jobs directly from predefined custom templates, and repurpose your frequently used job descriptions for future openings.

This is part of our Harri Hire mobile app features and improvements for both iOS and Android.

Intelligent Interviews.png

Intelligent Interviews

Interviewing on instinct isn’t enough. Create an optimized set of interview questions for each position across your business for more consistent and compliant interview practices. We've added the ability to create phone and/or interview questions on position, category, location and enterprise levels. Hiring Managers rate candidate responses, improving interview outcomes and providing you valuable data re questions that find the best fit.

Speed to Hire.jpg

Speed to Hire: Faster Interview Scheduling


Send interview invites, properly coordinated with location, interviewer availability and calendars right from our mobile app. Our Advanced Interview Scheduler is now supported by the Harri Hire app, meaning you can customize your interview process from anywhere. 

Internal Job Board.png

Internal Jobs Portal

Turnover in hospitality is among the highest across all industries. One of the best and most efficient ways to combat this is to hire from within. With our Internal Jobs Portal, you now have the ability to offer new roles to existing employees before the broader market. This is often a great boost to your employer brand. For clients in certain cities, this will also help comply with new predictive scheduling regulations. a

Because internal job posts are being promoted to a pool of talent that already serves as employees, managers can create different job descriptions and/or screening questions from external job posts. Internal job posts are pushed to the business’ internal career portal (similar to external career portal and can be accessed from the hiring dashboard).

Regardless of where candidates come from, both internal and external postings are managed through the same Applicant Management System. Candidates coming from internal job posts are automatically tagged as ‘Internal’ as a source, which is displayed on SpeedyScreen and reflected in sourcing reports.


Advanced Source + Hire Reports

The war for talent has never been so intense: 24 hours from 'apply to action' is now far too long.

Our newest reports - Time in Workflow, Talent Bank, and Unfilled Vacancies - give automated insight into the lifecycle and habits of your candidates and help you stay ahead of the hiring game. 

Time in Workflow allows you to see your candidates' total time in your company’s workflow. With columns such as Shortlist Time, Recruiter Time, and Hiring Manager Time, you can easily see the amount of time each candidate, position, or overall average candidate is spending in each portion of your hiring process. This allows you to see weak areas in your hiring funnel and proactively make improvements to enhance the experience for recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates alike. 

Talent Bank enables you to see the scores of candidates based on their position in the flow (first stage, second stage, or third stage) and their status (which mirrors your applicant tracking dashboard, and includes Offer, Interview, Applicant, Skip, Screening Stage, or Onboarding). 

Unfilled Vacancies gives recruiters and hiring managers better view of unfilled jobs with ability to view jobs with different statuses: Active, Paused, Expire, Active-Public, and Active-Private. 

We are constantly striving to improve our reporting options for our clients. These Enterprise-level reports are emailed to you in CSV form for the date range you enter and provide aggregated data across all locations. Managers have the ability to set date ranges and the generated report will be sent via email to the logged-in user. If you are interested in turning on these reports, simply reach out to your customer success representative for more information. 


Enhanced Resume/CV Visibility

Often, applicants may be suited to a different role than that applied for, or possess skills that may be useful in the future. That's why we created our Talent Pool platform.

You now have the ability to access a candidates' resume or CV from within the Talent Pool and/or My Docs. You no longer need to access it only through Speedy Screen, which makes it even easier to build and manage your team. Simply navigate to either section and find the candidate you’d like to review. By clicking on their profile, you will see a new option for ‘CV/Resume.’ This allows you to complete the screening process or reference an employees' experience even faster than before. Managers will be able to view resumes submitted by applicants on My Docs and Talent Pool. 


Job Posting Permissions

As a busy hospitality industry professional, you need to streamline workflow while maintaining top security and protecting your brand. Our new Expanded Manager Permissions allows Admins and Super-Admins to change their settings and allow Managers to post jobs (or bar them from posting jobs).

With these new options, the names of managers will be shown under User Management in your Settings. You’ll see that you now have the option to check their name for no changes, or uncheck their name to grant them the ability to post jobs. 


Business Media Configuration Options

Creating a strong and relevant employer brand is key to attracting the best talent. This new feature allows you to apply specific images and videos to individual job postings, helping curate the applicant experience. This can be used by companies of all sizes, but is especially useful to multi-concept operators. 

Timesheet Export Improvements

We have added multiple improvements and extra fields to Timesheet export, including the following columns: 

  • Scheduled: Hours scheduled for the shift. 
  • Scheduled In: Shift scheduled start time. 
  • Scheduled Out: Shift scheduled end time.
  • Variance: Worked hours - Scheduled hours

We've also made many enhancements, including the following: 

  • Changed date format to MM/DD/YYYY
  • Removed seconds when displaying hours. Format is now HH:MM
  • Renamed "Out" to "Actual Out"
  • Renamed "In" to "Actual In"


*These enhancements may affect your account. Please check in with all appropriate members of your team to ensure you're implementing the updates that will best serve your business.

Summer Series Diaries Vol. 1: Reward and Benefit

This year, we’re excited to debut our Summer Series in the UK, a selection of events for senior hospitality professionals. Co-chaired by Harri’s Cleo Clarke, Global Vice President of Human Resources Strategy, and Tom Howes, Product & Training Manager, these events aim to bring together a diverse group of professionals  to discuss topics which help businesses build a successful employee value proposition (EVP). An EVP is defined as ‘what an organisation stands for, requires, and offers employees’*.

To really dig into how to build a successful EVP, we’ve segmented topics that must be covered in order to create a strong offer for potential and current employees.

In the first session, which took place June 27, 2018, Rachael Bolton (Head of People, ETM Group), Becky Rose (Head of People, Coppa Club / Strada), Simon Milligan (Recruitment Manager, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi), Gemma Catlin (Head of People & Development, The City Pub Company), Carol Cairnes (Head of People, D&D London), Simon Wedlock (Recruitment Manager, The City Pub Company), Andrew Meechan (Talent Manager, Third Space), Janene Pretorius (Director of People, The Ivy Collection), Jose Rubio (Head of Recruitment UK, Ole & Steen) gathered gathered bright and early at The Riding House Cafe in Central London to discuss how their reward and benefits may be the first key to a great EVP (and enjoy a delicious breakfast).

The first session opened with a recap of the current state of play in the U.K. Unemployment has continued its downward movement and is at an all-time low of 4.3%. As expected, there was an average earnings increase and government relief at this time. Unemployment has seen little movement, with weekly earnings remaining much the same over the last 3 years**. However, this year has seen changes, with the national living wage increasing by a whopping 4.7%, which equates to an extra 33p/hour (or £50/month) per employee.

These changes, coupled with the fact that labour spend is a consistently relevant topic for the hospitality industry, meant that discussing reward and its effect on employee motivation and engagement was up for discussion first. Cleo opened by asking attendees if compensation was a leading factor for employee satisfaction and engagement. Many people disagreed with this for front of house employees (e.g. waiters, sommeliers, management), suggesting from recent experience that these individuals derive satisfaction from things like creating experiences and having lovely co-workers.

Oversupply, in ever increasing consumer choice and employment options has the sector in a bind.  To stand out in this crowded space we have launched our Employee Value Proposition ‘Expect More’. We know already that our guests to expect more from us in terms of food and service, and now we want our teams to share the same high expectation from us in terms of the training and career development they can expect.
— -Strahan Wilson, CFO, Cote Restaurants

On the flip side, other attendees agreed with this sentiment for kitchen/operations employees (e.g. chefs) suggesting that during recruitment conversations in particular, kitchen/operations applicants tend to be more interested in their take-home base pay and how this compares to other friends or connections in the industry, sparking one restaurant HR attendee to question how clear advertising is when concerned with salary. This generated comments from all about making a move, especially with entry-level employees, to talk about take-home wage rather than hourly rates, as this may be more useful to those prospective/promoted employees.

Based on this conversation, it seemed that many of the hospitality professionals in attendance have moved to make all positions below senior management payable at an hourly rate, thus allowing employees more control and understanding of their expected take-home pay. It was also suggested that attendees who took this route saw increases in reliability, productivity, and engagement.

Cleo, who implemented highly detailed compensation strategy and guides in past roles, shared his thoughts on how this can improve a business. Many attendees stressed the importance of having a guiding remuneration committee for any banding/grading decisions in order to provide differing perspectives.

Another hot topic discussed was the gender pay gap. The group was asked about their response to the gender pay gap reporting and their subsequent course of action. Of those using Tronc or other tip systems, many expressed that figures were difficult to generate, thus leading to a misrepresentation of their business. Some were happy to report that they had a positive difference in head offices; however, noted there were noticeable disparities between head offices and on-site staff. These disparities were most visible when talking through how compensation changes are managed. Many reflected that practices of the past (subjective pay changes) were very much “out” and more value lead clear pay for performance cultures were becoming more accepted at the front line.

Tom and the head of HR for a large group shared stories of budgeting for people metrics (i.e. recruitment/retention costs linked to bonus outcome) which received positive response. Many agreed they were in the process of or had already moved to such a system due to their counterparts in other businesses and industries showing positive progress with this methodology.

Considering the bonus and extra compensation employees may receive in our organisations, the conversation moved toward benefits; a key theme being the localisation of benefits to employees. One of the attendees from a hospitality business with wide reach and a diverse portfolio suggested that this was the only way they’d seen engagement from their teams with benefits. More generic solutions, e.g. Perkbox, seemed to be on the way out and a larger focus on unique employee useability was key.

Tom and Cleo had seen real, positive uptake on this with surveys, one way to gain insight. One attendee had a response rate close to 50% after 1 week on an all-employee survey for benefits (which for many was considered a good response). Some of the attendees had already undertaken this process and started relevant and requested benefits with their employees, including cash health plans and boosted employee discounts (some giving management up to 100% off inclusive of friends and family).

A competitive salary alone is not enough to retain top talent. We recognise that employees want a clear career path and support in reaching their potential. In response we have invested heavily in L&D. Amongst others we have launched 3 new D&D London Diplomas , developed an online appraisal system and trebled the number of training courses and workshops on offer.
— -Carol Cairnes, Head of People, D&D London

Excitingly, there was one attendee who had worked closely with their tech team to develop an internal application where employees could communicate, receive discounts, and earn points for use at their sites. This has dramatically decreased their benefit overall spend and brought employee focus across all departments and locations back to the business and the great food, beverage, and accommodation on offer.

Key Takeaways for Hospitality Employers

From this session, it was clear that there is real engagement across the industry on becoming more attractive for potential candidates and more beneficial for current employees. From a wonderful morning of scrumptious breakfast and intriguing deep conversation, there are some serious questions you should be asking yourself to create the reward and benefit element of your employee value proposition:

  • Changes to NLW & Unemployment Statistics:

    • Are your front-line managers aware of these changes and what their response plan will be?

  • Less Generic, More Tailored:

    • Are you considering differentiated offers in reward and/or benefit for customer-facing and kitchen/operational employees which will meet their needs?

    • Have you considered changing your advertising from a standard hourly/salary to a take-home wage?

  • Ownership:

    • Where do your people costs sit?

    • Are your front-line managers truly aware of the cost to their business?

  • Commitment & Cooperation:

    • Have you considered the use of committees or focus groups to understand your employee’s needs and give collective buy-in to actions you take?


Our next U.K. Summer Series in coming up on August 2, 2018. Interested in attending? Email for more details!






*CIPD, 2017

**ONS, 2018