Dave & Buster’s Gives Employees an Opportunity to Grow Through Language Learning

Dave&Busters-kitchen-cook-ipad-webDave & Buster’s Gives Employees an Opportunity to Grow Through Language Learning: A Conversation with Dave & Buster’s Director of Training Chris Schricker.

Since 1982, Dave & Buster’s has provided a fun and entertaining dining experience across the country and in Canada. Its mix of great food, drinks, and arcade games has expanded to 76 locations, with 10 percent new locations added every year.

Because company culture is critically important, this expansion has been primarily fueled through internal training and promotion. “One of our Company Culture Pillars is “Everybody is Somebody” so we feel team members have the potential for greater things in the company, we’re going to help them explore those options,” said Dave & Busters’ Director of Training Chris Schricker. He said the goal of his department is to be able to have 25 to 30 percent of the management team promoted internally.

Mr. Schricker knows exactly what it’s like to be that team member. He’s been with the company for 22 years, starting as an hourly employee in the very first location in Dallas. He’s seen the company’s growth first-hand and now supports a team of 150 trainers that crisscross the country. Leadership development is his priority, hoping to have 40 to 50 employees in the management training pipeline at any one time.

Language diversity in the restaurant industry

Roughly 20 percent of restaurant workers are immigrants. That number increases greatly within kitchen staff. Enter most professional kitchens and you’re likely to hear a wide mixture of languages and dialects, but especially Spanish. This influx of foreign workers cuts across cuisines, markets, and locations.

“A big challenge for us is promoting back-of-house team members to open kitchen management positions. Those employees predominantly speak Spanish, but require English skills in a management position,” Mr. Schricker said.

Mr. Schricker’s solution starts with Rosetta Stone.

How they did it

“To meet these goals, we first dabbled in English training via community colleges. We found that those programs simply took too long and were too burdensome for our employees. They are busy people and don’t have time for night classes.”

With many locations and employees willing to bolster their language skills, the community college approach also required too much oversight. “I like how Rosetta Stone allows me to monitor employee progress remotely,” he relayed.

The approval process for his Rosetta Stone idea was relatively tranquil. “It was the easiest expense I’ve ever had approved. The cost was low and the company is committed to the idea that our employees are our greatest asset.”

The Dave & Busters approach to language learning starts with placing iPads loaded with Rosetta Stone in each kitchen, to make it as easy as possible for the employees to practice. Working with the current Kitchen Managers employees schedule time during the work week to utilize the program. Mr. Schricker has found that this is a much more engaging strategy for his employees.

“You can’t force learning on people. They have to be vested, but it’s our job to make it as easy as possible for them.”

Multilingualism comes into play during Dave & Buster’s training program in another creative way. Mr. Schricker’s office produces training videos using its own in-house video production studio. These videos are created in both English and Spanish to cater to as many of the employees as possible.

Looking toward the future

Dave & Buster’s has greatly expanded its management prospect pool through Rosetta Stone’s always-on, flexible learning platform. This story reflects the growing language needs of companies in the 21st century economy. Language learning is no longer just the territory of the corporate road warrior, not when domestic employee pools are becoming increasingly diverse. Internal business processes can be made much smoother simply by bridging existing language gaps.

This example also serves as a model for how today’s employees wants their professional development delivered, with language learning appearing at the top of many PD wish lists. Workers understand that language learning makes them more marketable, not just internationally but also domestically. The ability to study wherever they find themselves is a game changer.

Mr. Schricker sees the possibility for more applications of his Rosetta Stone language learning program, flipping the learning so the English-speaking managers study and can better communicate with the Spanish speaking team members. The success the Dave & Buster’s training department has had with his language learning initiative has even generated a much larger byproduct for the company than just a deepening prospect pool.

“We see the company eventually expanding into Latin America, something that might not have been possible without us bridging this language gap,” he said.

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