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Real-Life Case Studies
From Our Files
(The names of the companies & individuals involved, along with other identifiers, have been changed. The stories & situations remain the same.)

Site ContextInitial Site Issues
Type: Restaurant
    One of a chain of 6 stores
Location: Central Connecticut
No. of Employees:
    40-50 per store
    Two Shifts
Chaplain Visits:
    30 minutes per shift
Chaplain Denominations:
    Rabbi (Jewish)
    Priest (Anglican)
Personnel: High staff turnover, high absenteeism/lates/no shows, difficulty finding new hires, numerous training issues, personnel conflicts and labor issues

Customer Service: Many customer complaints about poor service and bad product quality

Revenues/Production: Takebacks approaching 5%, comp markdowns approaching 10% monthly gross

Management: Frequent employee complaints about management favoritism, sexual harassment
January 14, 2011 - This is a try-out engagement with this chain. The chain has never utilized workplace chaplains before. It has requested that we work with this store which has been in a long-term decline. After 3-4 months, corporate will evaluate the utility of our workplace chaplaincy and decide whether to keep us on.

On this visit we visited at the start of each shift taking part in a voluntary attendance staff meeting set up by the shift manager. We introduced the details of chaplaincy program, gave out cards and contact information, got to meet staffers and management. We emphasized that chaplain does not work for the chain and that we are independent contractors and do not answer to the chain's management. Emphasis was placed on the confidentiality of all employee conversations with us. We made sure that employees knew that our services were no-charge and entirely free. Management was friendly, but the staff was strangely aloof and many were unwilling to speak with us. The second shift female waitstaff seemed especially ill at ease.

February 21, 2011 - Weekly visits have continued once a week, on Mondays. We engage in small conversations and chit-chat with employees during work; we can't spend a lot of time with employees, since they are busy much of the time and we don't want to interrupt their production. Some employees have begun to make appointments to see us off-site after hours. We've given out referrals to social service agencies to two employees who had family issues: these referrals have worked out and the stress is visibly reduced for these employees.

We received a request by one female waitstaff to meet her and her boyfriend off-site after hours and made an appointment for this evening. She told us she had been hit upon by the manager of the second shift, who had a pattern of hiitting upon the women on the second shift and asking for sexual favors. She said that those that acquiesced to his demands were given best assignments and tables. Those that resisted were harassed and many eventually had to leave because of this. She said she'd been fearful of reporting this to corporate for fear of losing her job immediately and that if she'd reported it to corporate management, that the shift manager would just deny it and nothing would happen. We told her we'd quietly look into this without giving away her confidence.

March 14, 2011 - Employees are getting more open with us, more willing to talk to us about what is going on in their lives and at the workplace, without fear that we'd disclose anything. We have built up strong relationships with many employee lead staffers.

In reference to the past complaint about the second shift manager hitting upon the female waitstaff, the store's general manager admitted to us that yes, he knows that the second shift manager hits on all the women, but he's unwilling to let him go since he's otherwise a good manager, one of the best he's ever had.

We're encouraging the GM to frequently, but "gently" speak with the second shift manager to help him "change his ways." There does seem to be a lessening of this harassing behavior by the second shift manager.

The GM also said he's noticed a significant improvement in employee morale at the store and that customer service response cards filled out by customers show a noticeable improvement of the store's customer service and product quality, which he attributes to our presence and assistance to his employees. He said fewer employees have quit this quarter than before and that his training costs have been much reduced because of it.

April 13, 2011 - Regular on-site visits with store employees and managers have continued on Mondays. We have built up considerable rapport with all employees and many members of their families, and meet with about half a dozen different staffers after hours off-site each month.

The GM told us not one employee has quit the entire month, versus a typical 10-12 per month in the last twelve months. Training costs have plummeted. Management / employee relations have markedly improved.

The endemic favoritism on the second shift has disappeared, both women and men have been given equal assignments. Training has morphed waitstaff into working as a team with much better cooperation.

The second shift manager is now a regular on our off-site meeting schedule; we've been working with him about his issues about women, which appear to have been spawned by a difficult relationship with a parent. His second shift "employee issues" have disappeared and are no longer a problem.

The store is now noted for exceptional customer service and has won an award from corporate about product quality. Monthly takebacks have been reduced to .5% and comp markdowns have been reduced to under 1%; seasonally adjusted monthly gross revenues have increased 4% beyond normal expectations.

The corporate office has concluded that the chaplaincy program has successfully reversed the steady decline of this store and has requested that we visit each of their other stores in addition to this one.
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