We hear it all the time: The labor shortage is killing the economy.
News reports, social media, casual conversations — all repeat the same refrain. From the supply chain to the stockroom, the cook to the cash register, the only thing holding America back is that no one wants to work.
Breno Donatti begs to differ.
The owner of Winfield Street Coffee locations in Westport (Post Road West), Wilton, Stamford, Trumbull, Croton (NY) and Naples (FL) has 27 in-house employees.
Another dozen work as independent contractors (web and brand design, architect, bookkeeper, accountant, electrician, plumber, handyman, garden care, carpenter, PR).
The average wage of his 5 full-time office staff is $32 an hour. In Westport, where 6 people works as store and assistant manager, part-time chefs and part-time baristas, the average is $17.20 an hour.
The pay in his other locations generally ranges from $14 to $16.25 an hour. Some employees earn as much as $22 an hour.
Most employees earn between $1 and $4 an hour in tips. All employees are eligible for paid sick and personal days, and vacation time. Managers and assistant managers can qualify for monthly and quarterly bonuses.
Because of a shortage of qualified restaurant staff, Donatti says, employees can pick where they like to work. Wage in “not top of mind,” he says, though imporant.
“Employees are lookin for an uplifting workplace with good colleagues, good culture and flexibility.” At Winfield, he says, that means frequent meetings to discuss problems, scheduling staff events and parties, and allowing managers the flexibility to provide staff what they need to do their jobs.
Staff are also involved in meal donations and community events, giving them “a sense of purpose.”
“We have not had major problems with worker shortages, because we believe that prospecting candidates and training staff is an ongoing process,” says Donatti.
They usually hire by word of mouth. Those who come that way usually stay longer than those found via Craigslist or resumes.
Donatti says he is “blessed” with an “honest, hard-working and motivated” staff, who care about the company and their colleagues. He has begun exploring ways to make it employee-owned.
Meanwhile — undeterred by staff shortages — Winfield Street continues to grow. A new coffee shop kiosk will open at 86th Street and 2nd Avenue in New York; 2 other kiosks will follow in the city by February. A large store similar to the Stamford flagship is planned for Rye by spring. Those 4 outlets will require 18 more employees.
“Our staff is the most important part of our company,” Donatti says. “Obviously, customers bring us the revenue to hire everyone. But by having the right personnel, we ensure that every customer is fully cared for — and that improves the chance they’ll return.
“My job, as CEO, is to make sure that my staff is cared for.”