Bite-size Case Study

Za and EVOO: crafting policies that meet employees’ needs

Published on May 30, 2024 Originally recorded 2023   6 min
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While the human resource management efforts of large hospitality corporations such as Hilton and Disney are often spotlighted and reported in national and international news and media outlets, efforts made by smaller operators often receive far less media coverage. With this in mind, I reached out to Steve Kurland, partner and general manager of Boston area Pizza Restaurants Za and EVOO to get an understanding of the efforts both large and small that he and other members of his leadership team took since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to improve workplace experiences for their employees. During our roughly 20 minute interview, Steve shared several seemingly small decisions that he and other business leaders made. As part of this case study, I would like to share a couple of these efforts being sure to highlight how each effort was centered around first identifying employees' needs and then striving to provide employees with critical work-related resources to meet these needs.
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Near the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health catastrophe that forced many fortunate hospitality organizations to reduce business offerings and the less fortunate ones to close either temporarily or for good, countless workers in this industry found their working hours slashed or worse, they found themselves unemployed. Indeed the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the leisure and hospitality sector saw the greatest drop in employment numbers between February 2020 and February 2021 compared to other sectors of the economy. In particular, within the hospitality sector, 72.3% of the job losses were among employees in service occupations followed by 8.1% in sales and related occupations and 6% in management, business, and financial occupations. Moreover, Black and Hispanic women as well as Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders demographic groups that are often the victims of social, political, and economic disenfranchisement and marginalization experienced disproportionate job losses in the leisure and hospitality sector. Steve recognized that for many of his employees the loss of a job and the income that comes with a job would cause further negative ripple effects in the lives of his workers and their families. As more and more employees of restaurants and bars in the Boston area saw their incomes largely disappear, Steve decided that his employees not only needed job security but also financial stability. To meet the needs of his employees, Steve affirmed his decision to stay open and to keep as many of his workers employed as possible.
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Za and EVOO: crafting policies that meet employees’ needs

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