Franchise owner with open sign
Published February 16, 2024

How to Support Franchisees Facing a Labor Shortage

With franchisees struggling to hire, how can franchisors create a culture that attracts employees to their brand?

The headlines, and many of the franchisors we’ve spoken with over the past year, are full of stories highlighting the challenges of finding and keeping staff. And while 59% of franchise leaders we surveyed report that recruitment has gotten better than a year ago, they still cite significant challenges.

With unemployment rates at an historic low, the challenge now for franchise employers, especially restaurants and other heavily impacted sectors that are finally bouncing back from the pandemic, like travel, hospitality, and retail, is finding enough qualified staff to operate. An article recently published by Franchise Update reports a record 92 percent of U.S. hiring managers are bracing for challenges in 2024, according to a survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals

In 2019, unemployment rates were at similar lows, and top talent—both franchisees and employees—were hard to find and even harder to retain. At that time, Franchise Business Review conducted the Franchising at Work survey, a formal study of employee engagement and compensation that asked franchise employees 24 core benchmark questions related to job satisfaction, engagement, management, brand leadership, and culture, as well as detailed personal questions about their position, compensation, benefits, and demographics. 

Since then, we have conducted the survey annually to identify benchmarks and trends among corporate franchise employees, both those who work for the franchise HQ as well as frontline workers in corporate-owned locations

The Franchising at Work survey asked franchise employees 24 core benchmark questions related to job satisfaction, engagement, management, brand leadership, and culture, as well as detailed personal questions about their position, compensation, benefits, and demographics. 

From the most recent research, some key findings emerged, namely that overall satisfaction is high (86%) but there is work to be done around some of the lowest rated areas, including compensation, recognition, long-term career opportunity, and communication from leadership. These all speak to the overall culture of the organization.

Create a Culture Where Employees Want to Work

Many franchises are offering incentives like signing bonuses and tuition assistance programs, which are helpful for attracting employees. But once they’re in the door, how can you ensure the workplace culture is such that employees are satisfied, engaged, and aligned with your mission?

1. Make it top-down. The culture of the entire organization is set by corporate leadership and should be a priority for the C-suite. Culture isn’t just a written set of values posted on the wall, franchise leadership needs to “walk the talk”. When leaders practice a positive culture and make decisions based on the core values of the organization, it sets the expectation that corporate employees, franchisees, and franchisees’ employees will too.

2. Provide support. Leaders and managers need to set the expectation that meeting the needs of employees, developing their potential, and creating an environment that emphasizes passion and teamwork is of the utmost priority. Especially now, with chronic understaffing and the increased emphasis on work/life balance and employee well-being since the pandemic, they need to be given proper training, and more importantly, feel supported and appreciated.

3. Address issues that matter to employees. Historically, U.S. companies haven’t paid much attention to the mental health and well-being of their employees, but that is changing as organizations everywhere are struggling to recruit and retain the best talent. Hybrid work/flexible schedules, mental health days, counseling services, yoga and gym memberships, and wellness stipends are just a few of wellness benefits that more and more franchisors are offering employees to help relieve stress and provide a better work-life balance.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion has also become a major focus for many organizations in recent years. The Franchising@WORK study revealed that overall feedback related to DEI initiatives was very positive; however, nearly one third of employees thought that company training programs could do more to promote inclusivity. And with more employees than ever before looking for meaning, purpose, and a broader social connection from their careers, franchise brands that find creative ways to be more transparent, open, and genuine about their mission and values will have greater success recruiting and retaining top talent.

4. Show recognition. Encourage franchisees to thank employees for the work they do, either through formal recognition programs set up at the corporate level, and/or by developing their own rewards and recognition programs. Making team members feel valued, even if it’s just a public thank you for a job well-done, goes a long way toward engagement and loyalty. 

5. Understand where gaps exist. Do franchisees have an accurate sense of how well they’re currently engaging employees and where they fall short – according to the employees? Are their hiring and retention efforts effective? It’s important to document and measure employee engagement so you can see where there’s room for improvement and track how well your programs are working. Michelle Kemplay, director of human resources at Jason’s Deli, says, “We encourage (managers) to celebrate the wins and create a plan of action for opportunities. Our expectation is to see improvement over the last survey. Our turnover is far less than the industry average both on the hourly employee side, as well as management side. We partly attribute that to being a listening company, especially (related) to the feedback we receive on the surveys.” Franchise Business Review’s Franchising at Work program is designed specifically to help franchisees benchmark employee engagement and monitor manager and staff performance across all of their locations.

Creating a positive culture is essential to your brand reputation. By setting the tone at the corporate level, franchisees will also benefit. They’ll end up with more engaged and more loyal workers, and in turn, more job candidates will be attracted to working in a place where others are happy and committed to their jobs. 

Learn more about how you can help franchisees measure employee satisfaction and engagement with Franchise Business Review’s Franchising at Work program. Request a free 10-minute demo.

Related Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement for Franchises

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement for Franchises CoverEmployee engagement is critical to the success (or survival) of franchise organizations, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to foster engagement.

Download your free eBook to learn how to:

  • Recognize barriers holding employees back from fully engaging
  • Create a supportive and engaging workplace culture
  • Make engagement a key part of your hiring and retention strategy
  • Measure and benchmark your team’s engagement against other franchise employers

Download Now

About the Author: Ali Forman

As the Marketing Director, Ali’s role is to educate franchise companies about and inspire them to participate in FBR’s research in order to grow and improve their brands. Ali's previous experience includes senior marketing communications roles in the employee benefits, data privacy, and publishing sectors. She lives in Maine with her husband and two sons.
Want more like this? Connect with us...