Chili’s Creates the Right Recipe for Employee Engagement

susanmcguire2018    February 8, 2018

Chili’s Grill & Bar is an American casual dining restaurant chain that features Tex-Mex-style cuisine. The company was founded by Larry Lavine in Texas in 1975 and is currently owned and operated by Brinker International. It wasn’t long ago that the words used to describe Chili’s was

“It’s a place I remember my mom and dad taking me as a kid. There’s no growth and development around the company, and I never hear any buzz surrounding it.”

Those were the words that Chili’s Director of Workplace Community Chris Ebbeler heard after surveying employees of other restaurants. They polled the audience to understand how Chili’s Grill & Bar brand was perceived by restaurant workers and whether they’d even consider working for the restaurant. In short, the responses left him and other members of the Chili’s brass disappointed.

The company listened to those concerns as well as concerns from their own team members and made the crucial decision to turn their organization around and transform the old-school perception into something powerful, modern and attractive to the next generation workforce.

Reshaping how people perceived the Chili’s brand, and making it an attractive place to work took time, effort and buy-in from their team members. Chili’s accomplished this by creating a brand story around what they called “Being the Best You”. Elements included:

  • A team member’s physical well-being
  • Career progress
  • Social life
  • Relationship with Community
  • Financial Well Being

Chili’s focused on those elements, developing community initiatives, creating financial programs that could help team members, and even instituting yoga classes to create a way for team members to keep up their physical fitness during a long shift.

Chili’s reshaped their online identity of the Chili’s brand. Their online social media pages were redesigned, making them aesthetically pleasing as well as informative and clearly displaying the company’s purpose. They built as well as a Twitter handle, @Chilisjobs, with the website giving job seekers a chance to see all the benefits of working at Chili’s while also finding out how each position within the restaurant contributes to the company’s overall goal.

They also started using hashtag #chilislove to show the world the fun their team members had in-and-outside of work, as well as the social good that its team members performed in the community. With the #chilisgrow hashtag, the company highlighted important team member milestones and promotions to show the growth path that’s possible at Chili’s.

Lessons for Others

Recently named Winner of the 2017 North American Employee Engagement Awards (EE Awards) is proof Chili is a leader in employee engagement. The have achieved this success by supporting people bringing their full self to work, and listening to what people in their company and the community needed.

Organization: Chili's Restaurant
Industry: Restaurant
Name of Organization Contact: Kelli Valade, President

Authored by: S.McGuire

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