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Building a Better Hospitality Industry One Worker at a Time

McMenamins article 2

McMenamins, one of the Pacific Northwest’s top hospitality groups, focuses on increasing employee wellbeing through innovative benefits and perk programs.

If you live in Oregon or Washington — then the name McMenamins is likely one you’re well familiar with. For the rest of you out there, McMenamins started when brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin opened their first pub in Portland, Oregon, back in 1983. Since then, they’ve grown their brand into a Pacific Northwest hospitality empire. With over 50 hotels, restaurants, pubs, theaters, and event spaces across Oregon and Washington, it’s hard to miss the name. While McMenamins has grown to be a significant hospitality group — they’ve kept to their humble beginnings and ensure employee wellbeing is at the forefront of their progress.

“Our employee benefits package continues to grow. I’ve been with the company for almost 25 years, and I’ve had benefits while in a management position that whole time,” M. Garrison, Human Resource Supervisor, told us. All management and full-time employees qualify for a core benefits package including medical, dental, short-term disability, and a life and flexible spending account. “A majority of our positions are variable hour, and we evaluate employee’s hours for benefit eligibility just prior to their one year anniversary,” Garrison said. “If someone has been averaging 30 hours per week over the prior year, they would have an offer of coverage for our core benefits package. Our entry level management positions become eligible much sooner than the year wait period.”

In addition to benefits, McMenamins provides an array of perks to both full-time and part-time employees meant to improve everyone’s standard of living. From paid time off and a 401K, to a multitude of discounts on things like transportation passes for the Portland Metro area and various McMenamin’s services, including hotel rooms, spa treatments, and other activities within their facilities — every McMenamin’s employee is encouraged to enjoy life.

As the restaurant industry re-opens and thousands of workers contemplate coming back to work in hospitality — creating better work environments and increasing focus on employee wellbeing will be the characteristics that set some employers apart from the rest. And while McMenamins, being such a large operation, has the advantage to provide a rich package of benefits, all employers should be moving toward professionalizing the industry to draw in more serious workers.

McMenamin’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is one of their more innovative and impactful offerings that provides every employee free access to assistance programs and counseling in whatever way is needed. It’s completely confidential, and employees always have the information they need to get help without sharing personal details with management or an HR Department. “We make sure employees have the information they need upon hire, and we have signs up at all of our locations,” explained Garrison. An EAP is an essential resource in giving employee’s the access they need to improve their physical and mental health.

Beyond providing benefits to improve worker’s personal lives, they also strongly advocate for career growth and advancement within their organization. Before posting on Poached, McMenamins always informs their current employees of open positions and prefers to promote from within. “You look at a restaurant, and you see the front of the house, and the people in the kitchen, and what a lot of these people don’t realize is that we have so many administrative roles that can be opened up to our staff,” Garrison shared. “ We have marketing, accounting, Payroll, IT, and facilities.” As a major hospitality group, McMenamins can be a great place to advance a career in all areas of the restaurant and hospitality industry.

A significant influence on employee satisfaction is working somewhere you can feel proud of. McMenamins takes involvement in their PNW community very seriously and donates to and otherwise supports local organizations and non-profits. Many of these organizations are brought to McMenamins attention through the passion and work of their employees, including local schools, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC organizations. McMenamin’s employees can feel good about making a difference in the communities they live in through their work.

There is still so much work to be done to better hospitality workers’ lives and work environments in the U.S. However, it’s also important to recognize those businesses leading the way toward change and positively impacting their employee’s quality of life. McMenamin’s is one such organization and continues to look toward the future of employment and professionalizing careers in the hospitality industry.

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Ashley Lange

Ashley Lange likes to cook, loves to bake and is always day-dreaming of her next meal. Ashley has spent the last 10 years in various roles within the food industry and is currently a server in Portland, Oregon.

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