A Big Appy Family – Harri Featured in The Caterer

A Big Appy Family

There are myriad reasons for the staffing crisis, but giving your staff extra flexibility, training on-demand and cutting their workload would no doubt solve some issues – and it can be achieved through technology. 

By Kathleen Hall from The Caterer – October Edition 2021. 


Staff shortages are not a new problem for hospitality – although it seemed to reach a nadir this year due to Covid and Brexit. However, one big change is that many operators are increasingly turning to technology platforms to plug the holes in their operations. From helping with recruitment to longer-term investment in people, the sector seems set to innovate its way out of the crisis. 

Despite the global pandemic, Wendy’s has not lost its appetite for growth. The US burger chain, which ran around 10 restaurants in the UK in the 1990s but pulled out of the market in 2000, opened its first UK site in Reading in June, with plans for five more by the end of the year. Eventually it hopes to have 400 outlets in the UK. 

With hospitality staff in short supply, the brand has clearly chosen a challenging time to embark on a new venture. But Michael Clarke, UK operations director at Wendy’s, says the buzz about opening has helped. “We have been very fortunate to have a steady flow of applicants and that so many feel a connection to Wendy’s,” he says. 

However, the chain has been using HR and workforce management tool Harri to help navigate some of the current challenges around recruitment. 

“We started recruiting for our Reading restaurant when much of the UK had restrictions on social distancing. Harri allowed us to overcome that by using video technology in lieu of in-person interviews, allowing a candidate to upload a video of themselves answering pre-set questions.”

He says that the quick turnaround of applications has been attractive to potential staff, as candidates can apply directly on their phone via the app. Once on-board, employees can use the tool to easily switch shifts with each other, helping to create a flexible work environment. 

“Everything is done via a mobile app, which means at the push of a button an employee can do so much. Our crew members now have the ability to request and swap days off, instant access to their payslips and the ability to communicate with each other through the group messaging feature. There is now no need for employees to search a team room for a schedule or call the restaurant to find their shifts. Having that self-service is attractive to candidates who are used to accessing information quickly or making changes in the moment.”

The tool has also proved useful for operators who have been using it prior to the pandemic. Kevin Coetzee, people and operations director at wine bar chain Humble Grape, says the app’s talent pool feature has meant it has been able to stay in touch with potential recruits who may not have made it through previous hiring rounds – helping to boost its recruitment pipeline. 

“I had a candidate who applied for a job in 2019 and I messaged them [via the app] and said something is available,” he says. “They responded to say, ‘Thanks, I know it’s been a while, but I’d love to have a chat’.”

Want to find out how Harri can support your hiring and workforce management needs? Book a demo below. 

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