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    Hospitality | 4 min read

    How to build a hospitality brand around sustainability

    Good employees are hard to find. This adage has become a daily reality for a huge number of businesses. But the issue isn’t necessarily a lack of skilled candidates or people seeking work. 

    Restaurateurs need to offer more than a competitive salary or amazing food to attract and retain hourly employees. They must stand for something. As a business, that purpose can take the form of sustainability or eco-friendliness.

    Sustainable business practices and eco-friendly food packaging can bring organizations a meaningful mission and a sense of identity. And increasingly, being a sustainable business can also be profitable.

    Sustainability resonates with customers. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, a credibility survey consisting of online interviews with 36,000+ respondents, reveals that 60% of us choose where we work based primarily on our beliefs and values.

    But how do sustainable practices translate to the ways you conduct business?

    What sustainability means in the hospitality industry

    Sustainability for restaurants isn't just about recycling or water conservation. It involves innovative ideas about how we source foods, consider supply chains, and more. Some sustainability business practices for restaurateurs to consider using are:

    • Landfill diversion and recycling. In the U.S. alone, the production of food that ends up lost or wasted generates a volume of greenhouse gas equivalent to the emission of 32.6 million cars. Diverting food waste to businesses that create compost or animal feed helps with sustainability.
    • Supporting sustainable sourcing. This practice includes buying foods locally to simplify the supply chain and reduce your carbon footprint, along with choosing vendors who offer eco-friendly products and services made from recycled (or remanufactured) materials.
    • Implement zero-waste cooking techniques. Add items to your menu that use every part of the ingredients you buy. For example, this could mean flavoring broth or soups from the bones you would otherwise throw away. Using more of what you already have means buying less.

    Incorporating new sustainable business practices in your workplace can feel overwhelming at first. Even if you think you're already running your business in an eco-friendly, sustainable way, look to your peers for fresh perspectives on sustainability and be open to adopting new practices in the industry. 

    As more businesses participate, the barrier to entry is lowered for everyone.

    Wondering where to start or which sustainability practices to try first? Ask questions and get involved in your community. Learn which businesses or vendors support your sustainability practices. Be aware of your environmental impact. Not just in food waste but how much water or electricity you consume.

    The role of sustainability in sourcing new employees

    One research study about sustainability as a business strategy showed that not only do 66% of people pay extra for products and services from socially responsible companies, but 67% of them prefer working for those companies.

    Many people want a job that brings meaning to their lives. Employers should respond to this, or expect to lose employees to businesses that do. 

    Being known as a restaurant with a purpose—defined by its sustainable business practices and eco-friendly worldview—can be an effective strategy for attracting like-minded people (even customers) to join your workforce.

    Sharing your company’s purpose with current and potential employees helps to explain why they should get involved with your business, how they can also make a difference, what ideals they share with you, and where they belong. 

    In contrast, any employees not drawn to your purpose of sustainability might opt out. Those who remain are more likely to also align with the company's purpose and appreciate that they’re part of something bigger.

    Ways to promote your business’ purpose to others

    Adhering to your sustainability business practices in the kitchen or the front of house only gives your company’s mission so much exposure. For everyone to see how your organization differentiates itself by its sense of purpose, look to:

    • Your social media channels, corporate website, and marketing efforts. First impressions really do matter. Always put your best foot forward by presenting your ethos in every channel. Let sustainability be an integral part of your identity and how you position yourself as a brand.
    • Your core employees. By learning more about your current staff, you’ll begin to create a profile of your ideal employee. Give your people a voice. See why your people have stayed with you, why your mission resonates with them, and if they can suggest people to recruit. 
    • Your weekly meetings or one-on-ones. It’s vital to stay engaged with the people who believe in what you do as a business. See what they need to fulfill your purpose. Listen for the reasons why they continue to work for you and encourage them to refer employees.

    How to focus on sustainability as you run your business

    Promoting awareness of your organization’s purpose and implementing your sustainability practices can be time-consuming. Give yourself more time in the kitchen with your crew or in front of house with customers by using technology for the other key aspects of your business like hiring, onboarding, and training.

    For additional ideas about building a socially-conscious hospitality brand for your business around sustainability, check out our webinar with Frank Klein, a successful restaurateur, sought-after consultant, and CEO of Asian Box. 

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