One of the most damaging legacies of the COVID pandemic is the staff attrition it has forced onsite dining services providers to undergo as financial necessities prompt layoffs, furloughs and even dismissals. The effects are obviously devastating on the affected employees but also on the employers, which not only absorb a negative impact on remaining staff morale and employee relations but also on future operations as the cutbacks remove experienced associates who may never return. That’s not only a loss of the time and effort invested in their training and development but also means repeating the learning curve with new employees if and when business again picks up and previous staff are no longer available to be rehired.
One company doing something about this is Eurest, a division of Compass Group North America, the country’s largest foodservice management firm. Last September, Eurest’s Western Division launched an initiative called Project Home that serves not only as a traditional in-house job placement program but also as a personalized support and advocacy service for displaced salaried associates. Project Home builds upon Compass Group’s Labor Share program that launched back in the spring as a way to connect displaced hourly associates with work through a mobile application as accounts began to shut down.
Since its expansion to Eurest’s other regions, Project Home has been able to place over a hundred valuable, experienced associates into new positions in not only the Eurest organization but other Compass divisions as well.
Project Home uses advocates within the organization who know the displaced employees and serve as personal advocates, connecting frequently with them about open job opportunities in not just Eurest but across the other Compass-operating companies and working to get them placed in a position that fits their skills and preferences. The advocate also touches base with the hiring manager at open positions of interest to support the associate and the program also helps them with their applications and resumes as many have not been through a job search for a long time.
“That personal connection is key for Project Home,” offers Senior Vice President of Strategic Solutions Beth Cash. “The people who are making these connections with displaced managers are the ones who worked with them the closest before the pandemic. They know the strengths the manager could bring to another role. Not only that, they care about them and want to see them succeed. We’re a family and this is a team effort.”
One veteran employee who has been placed by the program is Fiona Cleary, who had almost 13 years as a director and manager with Eurest when COVID struck. She had Cash as her advocate to assist her in finding a new position.
“I had calls with Beth bi-weekly, so it wasn’t a program that they just talked about but didn’t actually execute,” Cleary says. “Beth made sure to reach out to me frequently—beyond just on the bi-weekly calls—and we would go over internal postings together.”
Cash wasn’t the only one assisting Cleary, however.
“I also had managers I knew who were still with the company who reached out to me about rumblings of job opportunities in different sectors of Compass Group,” she recalls. “It just felt really good to know people had my back and were looking out for me.”
Cash eventually came across the position Cleary secured, which is solutions manager with Eurest Services, the company’s B&I facilities management unit.
“She had talked with them and they mentioned a job opportunity that she thought would be perfect for me,” Cleary says. “To make a long story short, I posted for the job, interviewed and got the job offer, so I’ve been back for three weeks now.”
Cleary landed within the Eurest Services organization and Project Home is specifically a Eurest program, “but we are relying on opening from across Compass to place our former salaried associates,” Cash notes.
“Our main concern was folks displaced over parts of our group and while we had the technology to search online and post positions, we wanted something to make it easier for people to get re-engaged,” explains Ed Mugnani, president of Eurest’s Western Division, whose team originally developed and launched Project Home. “It’s one thing to apply online for a position, but it’s another to apply and have an advocate,” he stresses.
The program is open to all displaced salaried employees of Eurest and is not simply a way to temporarily park them as the new positions they secure are as permanent as the employee and their new management want to make it, Cash emphasizes.
“This is really a passion project because as hospitality folks we’re all about care and connections, and this is something concrete that we can do for our displaced team members,” she says.