Business in Focus: TGI Fridays

A closer look at companies executing leadership excellence

Fridays_logoYou have to hand it to a company that has survived for five decades, fought off imitators, and endured shaming for asking its employees to wear flair. The chain’s signature look – a combination of Antiques Roadshow and Hoarders – actually started in 1965 as one of New York’s City’s first singles bars. Alan Stillman, a 28-year-old perfume salesman who knew that his Upper East Side neighborhood was populated by models and flight attendants, wanted to provide a dignified place where singles could meet. Stillman decorated the first TGI Fridays on the corner of 63rd Street and 1st Avenue with Tiffany-style stained glass, candy striping, framed photos, and knickknacks—to give the restaurant a homey and welcoming atmosphere.

TGIFridaysFast forward to today, and the newly renamed “Fridays” employs a workforce of over 70,000 at more than 900 sites worldwide. Today’s Fridays is responding to shift in demand by both its customers and its employees by shedding its focus on flair. The restaurants are being redesigned to offer customers a place for an office meeting or for home based workers to enjoy a change in scenery. The new design is an architectural response to a culture that is shedding its relationship with “stuff”. The clutter that defined the Friday’s aesthetic for decades is now associated with self-indulgence and waste.

The company is taking the less is more idea further by offering its employees perks beyond the traditional benefit package. Fridays is responding to the importance that employees place on work/life balance by giving them the gift of time.  Every Friday, operations employees enjoy a Happy Hour at 2:00 then go home to enjoy the weekend with family and friends.

Research shows that employers that give the gift of time back to their employees enjoy greater engagement, loyalty and commitment. Since Friday afternoons are typically the most unproductive part of the week, giving this time doesn’t necessarily cost companies that much. A new study by consulting firm CEB, which surveyed 220 human resource leaders worldwide, found that 42% of organizations now offer some variation of the Summer Friday perk — that’s up from 21% in 2015.

To read more about Fridays’ handbook to making every day Friday, click here.




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