Case Study: White Spot Excels with its Multi-faceted Employee Retention Program

You don’t become a legendary restaurant chain, satisfying more than 17 million guests annually at 120 locations throughout British Columbia and Alberta, without having a well-trained staff working as a team and buying into the corporate culture with genuine enthusiasm.

White Spot holds events to celebrate staff’s service anniversaries

Excellence on the job and loyalty to the company tend to go hand in hand. Such is the case at White Spot, which can boast one of the highest employee retention rates in the hospitality industry. More than 100 employees have been with the company for upwards of 20 years, 60 for more than 25 years and nearly 20 for more than 35 years of service. Contributing to this longevity are White Spot’s training and development program, its staff engagement initiatives, and its commitment to the communities where its employees and customers live and work.


A comprehensive training program that offers employees an ongoing opportunity to upgrade career skills plays a key role in maintaining low turnover:

  • Culinary employees can advance their technical skills through in-house Professional Cook Program training at all levels.
  • An accredited training program allows managers to earn college-level credits through internal workshops in four key areas: guest management, people management, operations management and systems management.
  • Selected hourly employees are also eligible for some of the accredited training workshops.
  • All managers participate in an online orientation program that addresses diversity and change management while also illustrating company values by means of an interactive game.


Photo of the winning team at White Spot’s annual softball tournament

Effective channels of employee communication are fostered through myriad initiatives:

  • Staff can participate in new product and promotion launch parties, which enrich their knowledge of new menu items and develop pride in the product.
  • Significant employee milestones are noted at recognition and social events.
  • Staff are encouraged to offer suggestions and express their degree of job satisfaction through regular menu and engagement surveys, ultimately improving both the guest and employee experience.Managers and key employees can improve their public-speaking and communication skills by joining the eight-week “Public Speaking
  • Boot Camp,” and/or by joining the popular, confidence-building Toastmasters Club.
  • A weekly newsletter, titled Spotalk, keeps all staff up to date on both business successes and employee achievements.
  • The BEST program (Best Service and Sales Team) inspires the staff at each restaurant to work together to claim the title. Quarterly and annual BEST winners can select from a range of prizes.
  • Numerous team-building recreational events are held throughout the year, including softball and golf tournaments, barbecues and seasonal parties.
  • Graduating Red Seal Chefs are honoured at celebratory dinners.


White Spot participates in the Zajac Day event

By supporting numerous local charitable organizations, White Spot fosters in its staff the satisfaction of knowing they are making a difference in their own communities, which further aids in increasing employee loyalty. These charities include:

  • White Spot participates in the Zajac Day event
  • Variety, the Children’s Charity, for which — for the past 30 years — White Spot has provided all the food and staff to look after the volunteers at the annual telethon.
  • BC Children’s Hospital, The Mel. Jr. and Marty Zajac Foundation, BC Cancer Society, The Michael J. Fox Foundation and the CKNW Orphans’ Fund, among many others.
  • Numerous local food banks, hospitals and Rotary Clubs.
  • The White Spot Pipe Band and Highland Dancers, a youth pipe band that has been in continuous operation since 1956. The band performs at many local every year, promoting musical development, team-building and organizational growth.

It was a combination of these practices that made White Spot the ideal recipient of the 2010 “Employees First” award, presented during the 2010 BC Tourism Industry Conference in Vancouver.

Interested in nominating your company for this prestige award? Click here for more information on the Employees First Award.