A goal of brewery owners should be to focus not only on making great beer, but providing a workplace environment that values employees, fosters careers, and seeks to keep the calm and peace. That can be easier said than done in a high-pressure environment that touches on many different skillsets but there are ways to achieve a positive workplace beyond just paying a fair salary.
“I always impress upon people who want to get into the industry that you do this for love, not money,” says Erik C. Coleman, the owner of Beer By Coleman, a consultancy company. “You’ll never get rich unless you’re an owner but there is camaraderie, it’s a brotherhood and a sisterhood and it can be really rewarding to be involved with.”
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For an owner that wants to build community there are things they can do in addition to wages that will foster good feelings, says Coleman.
This, of course, could include better health insurance and retirement plans. But there are also smaller things that build to larger appreciation on a daily or regular basis.
“An owner can pay for good brewer boots,” says Coleman. “It’s a necessary safety thing but also comfort and showing that you care about both can go a long way.”
He also suggests that for breweries that are in a planning phase to include employee showers and bathrooms for the brewing staff. Working in hot, sometimes unpleasant, circumstances, having a place to wash off or be in peace for a few minutes is helpful.
For breweries that also have restaurants or a kitchen, Coleman also suggests having a regular gratis meal plan worked in for brewers. “Picking up lunch on brew days or even once a week doesn’t cost the kitchen that much but speaks volumes,” he said. The same is true with picking up a shift beer or two.
Coleman stresses that communication helps build community. He suggests quarterly meetings between owners and brewers to check in on both the good and bad but treating it as a two-way street. Having dialogue where feedback is offered by both sides can help grow a business in a meaningful way.
Owners should also have a folder on every employee that has information beyond the work done within the four brewery walls. Knowing about employee’s family, hobbies, passions, and more and regularly checking in on those aspects of an employee life helps build trust and shows that someone is valued for more than their job function.
Also knowing what an employee’s career goals are and helping them grown tin the ranks, rake on more responsibility, if desired, or putting funds aside for certifications or classes can help retain employees who might otherwise leave for better opportunities.
“Find ways to level people up when you can,” he says. “Give them the tools that help their skillsets. If you’re an owner the key is to take care of your labor force and they’ll take care of you.”