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Knead Hospitality is founded by Jason Berry and Michael Reginbogin.

How Knead Hospitality is helping working parents with new added benefits

The Washington, D.C.-based multi-concept operator has launched a childcare reimbursement package for employees up to $1,800 a quarter

As restaurants continue to battle the age-old high turnover rate that the industry is known for, Jason Berry and Michael Reginbogin — the married team behind Washington, D.C.-based Knead Hospitality — are trying to introduce out-of-the-box benefits that will entice employees want to stay longer. Two years ago, the duo introduced the Knead Life + Style benefits package, which offers employees reimbursements for “expenses that make their lives better,” from dining out, to grooming and gym memberships.

The most recent addition to this generous benefit is quarterly childcare reimbursement for salaried employees, up to $1,800 a quarter, depending on level within the company. Until Berry and Reginbogin became parents themselves two years ago, they did not realize how challenging finding affordable and convenient childcare can be, particularly for workers in the restaurant industry.

“We are fortunate that we have a lot of resources to have additional care, like we have a nanny, and a night nurse for our son until he learns to sleep through the night,” Berry said. “We realized that so many of our teammates have kids and do not have the resources that we do, so we wanted to revamp the benefits program. I read that the average childcare costs in D.C. are $21,000 a year, so …how do you expect somebody who makes 50 or $60,000 put a third of their income towards childcare? It doesn’t make sense.”

Although they are only contributing reimbursements for up to one-third of that $21,000 cost, Berry said that he likes to believe they are making a dent in a very real problem for people across all industries, but especially within the hospitality industry, where turnover is so high.  Besides the cost challenges, he added that daycares are typically open only during business hours, which will not work as a solution for a parent who is working the dinner shift at a restaurant.

How it works is simple: Knead Hospitality offers this benefit, alongside their other lifestyle benefits, entirely in-house, with no help from outside vendors. Employees simple submit quarterly expense reports and will receive money back at the end of the quarter.    

“We're doing this not just because we're nice guys, but because we want people to stick around,” Berry said. “We want you to be happy at work. If you're happy at work, the people that report to you are going to be happy, and the people that come in and dine are going to be happy because they're taken care of by happy management.”

As for how Knead Hospitality can afford such a generous benefit, Berry said that either way they’d be paying for roughly the same investment. With these benefits in place, they can ostensibly cut turnover rates in half. Without it, they’d be paying to recruit and train replacement staff.

“[After you have to hire new people], then how long does it take them to really understand the business, the volume and the regular guests? Probably six months,” Berry said. “If you can reduce turnover, you increase the stickiness of staying with our company. You have great benefits that make people never want to leave or not want to leave as often. It’s also better for regular guests to see the same faces and people who know what they’re doing.”

In the future, Knead Hospitality hopes to expand the childcare benefits program to non-salaried employees, and possibly even to include a direct daycare benefit option in the future, depending on employee participation in and response to the current program.

“I'd love to have a Knead daycare center somewhere in D.C. where you can drop off your kids X number of times per month, or maybe even full time,” Berry said. “I would tell them, ‘Are you interested in partnering with us? Because we can fill up your daycare with 100 children right now.’”

Contact Joanna at [email protected]m


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