For the last 20 years at Alan Wong’s Restaurants we’ve believed in the importance of investing in our people. We understand that by building our staff from the inside out, they grow to be better culinarians, better hospitality professionals, and better members of society when they leave the four walls of our restaurants.
We talk a lot about the importance of a dream. We ask all new employees to write down their goals and share those goals with their manager. We teach our staff that with big goals and dreams, a big commitment is required. If the commitment doesn’t match the goal, the dream falls short.
Our employees continually rise to the challenge. They set big goals and work hard to achieve them. Many of our employees work at Alan Wong’s while attending school, with the goal to complete their higher education. For many of our staff, the commitment it takes to achieve this dream, despite road blocks and challenges, long hours and lots of time committed, is tremendous.
As managers, part of our job is to look for and create opportunities to support our staff along their journey. In the fall of 2014, the Feeding Leaders Program was born out of the desire to support our student employees in receiving their degree. The Feeding Leaders Program provides tuition reimbursement to employees for class work related to their job at Alan Wong’s. Throughout the semester, we ask our Feeding Leaders participants to journal about their studies. By creating an opportunity for our employees to reflect, we strive to give them a format to connect their experience in the classroom with the “real world”.
It’s been awesome to watch our students along their journey in the Feeding Leaders Program over the past year. Through their reflections, they share about the challenges they face as a young professionals managing the balancing act of going to school and working at the same time. They also share about their discoveries as their eyes and hearts are opened to new ideas and new experiences. Learning about a new dish, meeting a new and inspiring chef, or just learning to appreciate all that they have experienced on their journey so far allows us to see another side of our employees that they may not otherwise share with us.
Although it wasn’t the goal of this program, my hope is that as these students share about their experience, we will all come together a little more. We will take the time to reflect and remember a time and place when we were in their shoes. We will celebrate with them as they discover and learn and show empathy when they face challenges. Through personal connections comes compassion and caring, one of the cornerstones of employee engagement. If this program can be one more step in strengthening relationships, we are doing something right.
Jill Briney, HR Manager