Oct 25, 2023

ReThink Productivity Podcast – How the Value of a Digital Frontline Workplace Solution Helped Aramark Set the Stage for Successful Concerts Operations

What happens when the global food service juggernaut, Aramark, meets the trials of Brexit, a pandemic, and the passion of a Garth Brooks concert? ReThink delved into a conversation with Rachel Malyan, Aramark’s Head of Workforce Management, and David Rogers, VP of Sales and Marketing at WorkJam. With three decades of experience under her belt, Rachel offers a unique perspective on the difficulties facing the food industry, from recruitment and retention, to planning high-profile events.

Rethink Productivity Podcast

Listen to the full podcast episode:

Rachel’s Journey in the Food and Hospitality Industry

Rachel Malyan brings a wealth of experience to the table, boasting almost 30 years in the food and hospitality industry. Her journey began during her university days when she worked with Yum! Brands, including Pizza Hut and Whitbread, in the UK. Eventually, her career took her to Ireland, where she led operational franchise support for Pizza Hut.

Today, Rachel serves as the Head of Workforce Management for Aramark, overseeing workforce productivity initiatives and employee experience strategies across various sectors.

Aramark: A Global Food Service Provider

Aramark is a powerhouse in the food service industry, with a presence in markets such as education, healthcare, business and industry, sports, leisure, and entertainment. Operating primarily in North America but extending its services to 20 other countries, Aramark generates an annual revenue of approximately $16 billion.
In the UK and Ireland, the company rakes in approximately a billion in annual revenue, offering food and facilities management services to clients, including 14 OCA retail locations across the island of Ireland.

Challenges in the Food Industry

As Rachel and David, the GM of EMEA for WorkJam, discuss the challenges faced by the food service industry, they touched upon several critical points:

  1. Workforce Attrition Due to COVID and Brexit: The pandemic led to a significant exodus of workers, particularly in the UK, and returning staff faced challenges due to Brexit-related regulations affecting workers.
  2. Recruitment and Retention: Finding and keeping talent in an industry that has faced shutdowns and restrictions can be daunting, given the uncertainty that still surrounds hospitality.
  3. Rising Costs: The industry grapples with increasing food and labour costs, which can lead to reduced margins and fewer available resources.
  4. Seasonal Business: Aramark often caters to seasonal events and locations, adding complexity to workforce management when operating out of season.

WorkJam: The Solution to Frontline Workforce Challenges

David highlighted that in response to these challenges, organisations are increasingly turning to automation and digital solutions to optimise frontline workforces. WorkJam, in particular, is playing a significant role in helping businesses maximise their workforce’s efficiency. A digital frontline workplace offers a more engaging and productive way to connect with employees, aligning their skills and preferences with available shifts and tasks.

The Garth Brooks Concert Series

Garth Brooks, an American country music icon, is adored by fans worldwide. His concerts in Ireland are nothing short of national events. In 2022, he announced plans to bring his tour to Croke Park Stadium, presenting a unique set of challenges for Aramark. Croke Park Stadium, one of Aramark’s clients, has an 83,000-seat capacity and is primarily a sports venue. Hosting five Garth Brooks concerts out of season, with a reduced workforce and many staff members returning to school or university, posed substantial challenges for Aramark.
The 2014 Garth Brooks Controversy
To understand the context fully, it’s essential to mention the 2014 Garth Brooks controversy. Back then, Garth Brooks’ concerts in Ireland were cancelled due to licensing restrictions. This sparked a nationwide debate and mass disappointment. The country was divided between those who wanted the concerts to go ahead and those concerned about the impact on residents and local businesses.
The Role of WorkJam
In 2022, Aramark faced the daunting task of managing a massive event with limited resources in a time crunch. They had to secure 1,100 staff members per night to support the five concerts. WorkJam’s platform played a crucial role in tackling these challenges.

  • Digitalisation and Task Management: WorkJam enabled Aramark to optimise task management and scheduling, helping them do more with less resources.
  • Engagement and Communication: Provided a direct channel for communicating with employees, sharing updates, and answering their questions in real-time.
  • Labour Sharing: Aramark’s use of WorkJam extended beyond its typical workforce, enabling them to share labour across the organisation via WorkJam’s Open Shift Marketplace.
  • Employee Engagement: Employees were empowered to choose their own shifts and pick the areas of the stadium they wanted to work, making the process more engaging and efficient.

Learn more about how Aramark thought differently about filling 5,500 shifts and leveraged WorkJam to revolutionise its frontline operations: download the case study.

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