A christmas gift for Wagamama
It being a time for giving, I’m going to set aside my snarky instincts and offer some free advice to the management of Wagamama.
Yes, Wagamama. In case you haven’t been following the news today the Wagamanagers have let themselves down by allowing a notice from a junior member of their team to be photographed in all its sordid glory. In the notice the junior Wagamanager warns staff that, in line with the staff manual and contract, anyone wanting to go sick over christmas will have to find their own replacement and face disciplinary action.
Of course, what we’ve all always wanted from a franchise food chain is dedicated management that will ensure that staff with infectious diseases have an incentive to handle our food. (I may have fibbed about giving up snarkiness for christmas.)
However, here are my hot tips for Wagamanagers who may fear they are having their own Ratners moment.
- Accept the reality – your staff know that social media works now, and if there are any other smoking guns out there, be prepared for them to crop up on social media. If I were in your office I’d be asking myself what the narrative about the use of zero hours or seasonal contracts will look like in the light of day.
- Check the numbers. Right now it’s an evens bet that some self important MP will demand that you appear before a Select Committee. Get a grip on the numbers now and understand if some of your branches have better or worse sick records, and why. That includes being able to prove your managers don’t use disciplinary processes to deal with sickness or capability issues.
- Get a grip on the numbers, part two. If I know anything about companies with dodgy sickness policies, it’s that they’re also shit about employing disabled people, and making reasonable adaptations. So check that one out, before someone from the equalities community checks you out.
- Remember I suggested you look at your sickness performance in point two? Do some spot audits of restaurants and check for completed return to work forms, with accompanying risk assessments. You will have them, won’t you?
- Those staff contracts and handbooks that the numpty manager name checked; you’re going to publish them aren’t you? Better to own the story and release them yourselves than be humiliated in front of a select committee – ask Mike Ashley.
- You know in question one I warned you might want to look at the narrative around zero hours contracts? You’ve always been good on tips in the past, are you sure all your restaurants will come out clean in any checkup? Up until 24 hours ago you could do the ‘we’re the good guys’ pose, but you’ve lost that now and need to get that back. Time to take stock and do some elementary risk management. If your defence in this case is that a well trained manager inexplicably went off piste, how can you guarantee they won’t have done so on other issues?
- You know how I mentioned the link between sick staff and sick customers. You will publish your numbers for sickness claims from customers by branch won’t you?
- Last bit of free advice. You’re doing the rogue manager defence. According to Scores on the Doors, Westminster Council only has some confidence in the management of your Wigmore St branch. Are you sure you can evidence that your management training works?
Here’s the problem you have. We all like brands we recognise, and the idea that alongside those brands sit values that give us comfort, even if the food offer is mediocre or middle of the road. You’ve just allowed a manager to drive a coach and horses through your values and processes, and that’s all you have.
Good luck. You may need it.