How The Deployment of HR Tools Helped Earls Overcome COVID19

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April 19, 2022

1 - Acting fast with planning and mobilization.

The impact of the pandemic on restaurants was sudden and striking, and the swift government response and lack of reliable information seemed to change the industry landscape overnight. It was clear that formal structures needed to be created to navigate the uncertainty and changing situation. 

It wasn’t long before the Earls’ Executive Team began planning and mobilizing resources before they became necessary. They immediately created a Covid Solutions Committee to facilitate interdepartmental collaboration and information exchange to respond to the crisis.

This formal structure ensured the company as a whole was prepared to respond when circumstances inevitably changed, making implementing health and safety protocols, following government restrictions, delegating tasks, and communicating across the company much easier and more efficient.

Earls created and executed a carefully-planned strategic approach that spanned the entire company. Relying on Push’s comprehensive HR and management solutions, Earls was able to communicate these new strategies and protocols efficiently and effectively across the organization.

2 - Focusing on internal communication.

This was a big one, as one of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic, not just for the restaurant industry but across the board, was the sudden loss of daily in-person connections to our communities.

Staying engaged and connected to one another in a time when we’ve all felt disconnected is vitally important for our social health and the success any businesses.

In the early days of the crisis, all Earls restaurants were closed and there was a lot of uncertainty. Regular communication was extremely important, and Earls relied heavily on Push’s messaging function to stay connected, foster a sense of community, and reach a broad audience. 

In a time of uncertainty, providing factual information from a trusted source provide[s] a sense of security.

- Tomelise Stefan, Manager of People Operations

Using a comprehensive HR software, Earls was able to provide a culture of community and clarity, which was especially needed during these uncertain times.
Here are a few of the key tools they used:

  • Enterprise Push Messages provided a platform for distributing global letters from Earls’ President and Executive Team and for comprehensive, targeted information sharing.

  • An Internal Company Newsletter was used to deliver key Covid-related updates daily to managers and leadership on topics like product changes, innovations, and safety protocols.

  • Earls’ Internal Intranet served as a one-stop shop for all standard operating procedures.

Internal communications play a large part when it comes to running a successful multi-operation restaurant workforce, and also help to keep everyone in alignment during war-time leadership, down to the day to day.

3 - Creating an agile workforce.

The restaurant closures and capacity restrictions imposed by governments in response to the pandemic created unprecedented labour-forecasting, scheduling, and reporting challenges across the food-service industry. With this in mind, the Earls team leveraged their software, using scheduling and forecasting tools that supported Earls in managing labour effectively, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

Using this software allowed Earls to adjust scheduling and forecasting based on analytics and data rather than guesswork.

Although things are now starting to come back to normal, during this time the way restaurants operated shifted dramatically toward at-home kits and takeout as a result of the pandemic, so using a data-driven approach to scheduling and staffing allowed Earls to focus resources where they were most needed.

There has been more of a focus on delivery and takeout, and with Earls, we did chef’s kits and grocery programs, which really changed the way our jobs were organized. In a normal operation, we have a number of servers and line cooks that really prominently take over the schedule, but when your restaurant is closed, you don’t need as many servers. You need people who will help prepare takeout and delivery bags. So it really allowed us to flex our positions and job responsibilities.

- Suman Dhaliwal, Director of People Operations

By improving scheduling and staffing practices, Earls was able to find efficiencies and cost savings that were key to enduring the pandemic and strengthening business practices as a whole.

4 - Taking care of our people.

The pandemic poses risks to the physical, psychological, and emotional health of individuals and communities. Earls believes that an organization’s values are an integral part of taking care of its people, especially during a pandemic. That’s why, company-wide, Earls made the decision to use the available resources to support the well-being of all employees while fostering a culture of connectedness and teamwork.

Taking care of our people at Earls is really a North Star and all decisions were really filtered through that lens. When we first stated our response to Coronavirus, our CEO, our President, and our entire Executive Team first aligned on that ‘people value,’ so a lot of the actions we took actually involved this philosophy.

- Tomelise Stefan
, Manager of People Operations

Below are a few of the steps Earls took to ensure the wellbeing of our people during the pandemic:

  • Paying out all scheduled hours as soon as restaurant closures were announced
  • Continuing to employ and pay all salaried managers throughout closures
  • Acting as a standard of safety by developing and communicating health protocols right away
  • Creating and distributing information sheets and FAQs about available benefits through Push’s messaging feature for employees 
  • Prioritizing ROEs and distributing them digitally
  • Leaning into the conversation and encouraging open channels of communication with managers and senior leaders

In the end, it’s a values-based, strategic approach to new challenges.

Enduring the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for individuals, communities, and organizations across the globe. The restaurant industry has been impacted in unique and profound ways. Managing through this crisis isn’t an easy task, but the right combination of values, strategies, and software can bring people together, even when times are hard. 

A pandemic doesn’t simply have to be endured. With the right goals and approaches, times of crisis can prove to be catalysts of growth and change.

With a focus on values and putting people first, and using the right tools and innovative strategies, the restaurant industry can transform and thrive, and Earls is an example, of just that.

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February 2021


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