DONUT FRIEND EMPLOYEE MEETING FEBRUARY 2021

[the following were to be the topics of discussion at Donut Friend's February 2021 Town Hall Meeting. The meeting was canceled and this document was sent out to the staff on February 13, 2021]

DONUT FUNDS

Last month, our #donutfunds program raised $3,039 for the music education program at Aldama Elementary school! This month, our #donutfunds recipient is once again Recycled Resources for the Homeless, Highland Park.

Recycled Resources for the Homeless is a small nonprofit organization that started in 2008 in Northeast Los Angeles (NELA). The majority of their work is made possible by volunteers and they operate on a zero percent profit margin. Recycled Resources was founded in order to provide a safety net and basic necessities to all people experiencing homelessness in the Northeast Los Angeles community. Their goal is to outreach and engage people experiencing homelessness, create trusting and supportive relationships through our outreaches, and provide basic necessities as there was no homeless service provider in the NELA community. In addition to providing food, clothing, hygiene, etc, they also offer case management services in order to link people to services and support/advocate for them as they navigated these services.

Our #donutfunds program donates 50% of the proceeds from our Compassion Fruit donut to a different cause or charity each month. Since its inception in 2017, it has raised over $100K for various organizations that directly and indirectly benefit the communities in which we serve.

HUMAN RESOURCES

Outsourcing HR. Our main focus right now is to find a suitable HR company for Donut Friend. While we are still early in the process, we are leaning towards a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO, because they are the most comprehensive solution short of having in house HR. This will be a major, positive change for Donut Friend, and will provide everyone with greater transparency and an HR professional they can speak to with any issues they may have. We’re currently evaluating several options and should be able to make a decision within the next couple of weeks. 

Detailed job descriptions and responsibilities. We have completed job descriptions for every position with the company but are waiting to share until after we’ve chosen an HR company.

An updated code of conduct and disciplinary system. Like our job descriptions, we have a brand new employee handbook ready to go, but would like whatever HR company we work with to have some input before sharing.

Clear paths to promotion. We are a small organization and have only a few job titles, but the paths between them are very clear. Just for clarification, for front of house, it’s Donut Friend -> Senior Donut Friend -> Supervisor. For back of house, it’s Assistant Baker -> Fryer -> Baker -> Kitchen Supervisor.

Benefits Open Enrollment Period. Full time employees please be on the lookout from Gusto regarding the beginning of our open enrollment period, which should be starting soon. This will be your only opportunity to enroll in, change, or decline your medical, dental, vision, and life insurance coverage for a year. Don’t miss it! Our benefits renew on April 1st.

SCHEDULING ISSUES

Replace our current scheduling app with one that allows easier tracking of shifts, time-off, breaks, and messaging. As mentioned back in October, we are as frustrated with Deputy as some of you, and we have been actively looking for a replacement. However, Deputy is one of, if not the highest rated scheduling apps currently on the market, and does everything well enough that finding something better has proven exceedingly difficult. Since this issue was first raised, we have evaluated several other options, and found their advantages to be outweighed by how they integrate with our other systems. We are continuing to look, though, and have a demo scheduled with another option this week. If anyone has any recommendations for apps we should explore, please send them our way.

Consistent hours with no involuntary “clopening”. The hours for our part time employees are fairly stable but sometimes fluctuate due to time off requests, call-outs, and scheduling demands. We do not schedule any “clopens” without prior employee approval. Some people have asked to “clopen” instead of having all closing shifts. We also, to the best of our ability, always schedule days off consecutively, but on occasion scheduling demands prevent it. When the schedule is published, please check it immediately and notify your GM if you notice any irregularities so they can be addressed.

Schedules released at least two weeks in advance. We used to release the schedule two weeks in advance. When the pandemic began and our scheduling needs were changing week to week, this became impractical and we were forced to publish later. We believe that the situation has improved somewhat and can certainly strive to get the schedule out earlier than we are currently. Two weeks is the goal.

Equitable distribution of hours, guaranteed 30+ hours for our full time employees. We already provide at least 30 hours a week to our full time employees. The hours for our part time employees are typically very stable, but can fluctuate due to time off requests, call-outs, and scheduling demands. We believe we are doing our best to balance schedule stability with schedule flexibility, but we welcome further suggestions.

Guaranteed return to work for those taking time off due to COVID-19. We continue to speak with those who responded to our May 2020 message asking who wanted to return. As a reminder, we dramatically changed how we operate last year (no DIY donuts, production being done in the morning instead of all day, a smaller, limited menu, etc.), and those changes resulted in, among other things, less food waste, a more manageable and easier to understand production schedule, and fewer available shifts. Everyone  agreed these changes have been for the best, so we made these changes and the reduction in shifts permanent.

COMMUNICATION ISSUES

Consistent about changes in the workplace with readily accessible access logs of these messages. We send out weekly messages on Deputy. These messages are never deleted and accessible to everyone. Based on a suggestion that came up during one of our employee check-ins, we also now print out a copy of the message and post it on our shop bulletin boards. If anyone is having difficulty accessing older messages please speak with your GM.

Prompt response from management to employees. We always strive to respond as quickly as we can. There have been times, particularly when the pandemic began, where it became difficult to respond to every message immediately; however, we believe this issue was resolved with addition of our GMS in 2020. We are happy to discuss this further if there is more we can do.

A full employee contact list accessible to all workers at all shops. Everyone has access to the contact information for team members at their particular location through Deputy. For the health and safety of our staff, we do not allow employees to work at multiple locations, so if you need to find coverage, you may do so only from the staff assigned to your current location. 

HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES

De-escalation training for dealing with difficult or aggressive customers. This is a great idea and we will work to implement this kind of training as soon as possible. We will also discuss the matter further with our new HR company for additional training options.  

Clear demarcation of social distancing spacing. We recently installed some barriers in our kitchens to help separate each station. If anyone believes there is a need for further barriers please speak to your GM. We will be happy to provide them.

Plexiglass barriers anywhere customers are facing FOH employees. We have already installed many barriers in our FOH and have more on the way. If there is a particular area you feel needs an additional barrier please let us know. 

COVID-19 vaccine within weeks. This is not yet confirmed, but we’re starting to hear rumors that Los Angeles County may give restaurant workers access to the vaccine within a few weeks. If this turns out to be true it would be very welcome news. We’ll definitely keep everyone updated as we learn more!

Continuing to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. We have and will continue to follow the most recent guidance from local, state and federal agencies. We’ve worked to adapt and update our policies, procedures and practices in accordance with those mandates and best practices, which have changed frequently through the course of the pandemic. We’re taking aggressive measures and providing even greater transparency during the pandemic as summarized below. 

We have also always welcomed suggestions and input from the staff regarding operations at Donut Friend, and our COVID-19 policy is no exception. In fact, every actionable suggestion presented to us by a team member has been implemented in some way. While we believe we are doing everything we can to keep our team safe while at work, we recognize that there’s always room for improvement and encourage anyone with suggestions to please send them our way. 

In the meantime, this is our current COVID-19 policy:

The preventative measures we are currently taking to keep our team safe while at work:

  • Employees are required to log their temperatures before clocking in.
  • Disposable masks and gloves are provided.
  • All high contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized regularly.
  • Social distancing stickers have been placed in our front of house. 
  • The number of guests allowed in the shop is limited.
  • Hand sanitizing stations were installed at the front door and at the register.
  • All guests are required to wear masks.
  • Barriers have been installed between our customers and team members.
  • Barriers have been installed between work stations in the kitchen.
  • We have limited the number of employees scheduled at a time.
  • Employees are not to take breaks together to minimize contact.
  • With one or two exceptions, employees do not work at multiple locations.

We will exclude from work employees who (1) test positive for COVID-19, or (2) have had COVID-19 exposure. 

A person is considered to have had a COVID-19 exposure if they were within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes within any 24-hour period during the COVID-19 case’s “high risk exposure period.” 

The high-risk exposure period is:

    • For COVID-19 cases who develop COVID-19 symptoms - from two days before they first develop symptoms until 10 days after symptoms first appeared, and 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms have improved.
    • For persons who test positive but never develop COVID-19 symptoms - from two days before until ten days after the specimen for their first positive test for COVID-19 was collected.

If we learn that one or more of our team members had a COVID-19 exposure in the workplace, we will do the following:

    • Notify all employees and employees’ authorized representatives who may have had COVID-19 exposure within one business day in a manner that does not reveal the COVID-19 case’s personal identifying information
    • Offer testing at no cost to any employee potentially exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, and provide applicable benefit information. The time an employee spends being tested is considered compensable hours worked.
    • Exclude from the workplace employees who test positive for COVID-19 and employees with COVID-19 exposure, and follow the requirements for preserving their pay and benefits
    • Follow the return to work criteria for returning excluded employees to work
    • Investigate the exposure and address hazards
    • Follow all record keeping and reporting requirements for employee COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 cases will be allowed to return to work when:

    • For employees with symptoms all of these conditions must be met:
      • At least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 or higher has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications;
      • COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and
      • At least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared
    • For employees without symptoms, at least 10 days have passed since the COVID-19 case’s first positive test
    • If a licensed health care professional determines the person is not/is no longer a COVID-19 case, in accordance with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) or local health department recommendations

Employees who were exposed to a COVID-19 case will be allowed to return to work 14 days after the last known COVID-19 exposure.

An employee does not have to have a negative test to return to work. The criteria for returning to work are listed above.

In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak (three or more COVID-19 cases in an “exposed workplace” within a 14-day period or identified as an outbreak by a local health department), in addition to the requirements for non-outbreak settings, we will:

    • Immediately provide testing to all employees in the exposed workplace and exclude positive cases and exposures from work; repeat the testing one week later; and
    • Continue testing employees at least weekly until the workplace no longer qualifies as an outbreak.

COMMUNITY ISSUES

Reinvest in communities with Donut Friend locations. We’re very proud of the work we’re doing through our #donutfunds program. Since its inception in 2017, we have raised over $100,000, and a majority of that money has gone directly into homeless outreach programs and music education programs in Highland Park. Recycled Resources for the Homeless, Highland Park and the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock have both received multiple donations from Donut Friend. In addition, we helped to create and continue to fund the music program at Aldama Elementary School, located just a few short blocks from our HLP shop, through our continued patronage of Education through Music, Los Angeles.

For our DTLA community we’ve donated to the Downtown Women’s Center, Food Forward, and CASA of Los Angeles. We also organized a group of volunteers to help prepare lunch for the ladies of the DTWC in November of 2019, and would have done so again in 2020 if not for the pandemic. Hopefully this year! We continually donate any leftover supplies or food items to the DTWC as they become available, and of course, any left over donuts go to Food Fight! and Vesta for distribution at local food banks.

We’ve always welcomed suggestions for organizations we should support from our staff, and many of our previous recipients have come from employee suggestions. If you know of an organization that could use our support, please send it our way.

Compassion fruit proceeds to go to social & economic justice organization around LA. This is already happening. Our Donut Funds program has raised nearly $100,000 for social and economic justice organizations, most of which benefit the communities of Los Angeles both directly and indirectly. In addition, we continue to donate to animal rights organization and education programs. The complete list of organizations we’ve donated to over the years are publicly available at https://donutfriend.com/donutfunds, and includes:

Ape Action Africa
Black Girls CODE
CASA of Los Angeles
Center for the Arts Eagle Rock
Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE)
Downtown Women's Center
Education through Music Los Angeles
Every Town for Gun Safety
Fair Fight
FairVote.org
Food Forward
Foundation for Feline Renal Research
Keep A Breast
LGBTQ Freedom Fund
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
NKLA
Planned Parenthood
RAICES Texas
Recycled Resources for the Homeless HLP
Southern Poverty Law Center
Support and Feed
Tegan and Sara Foundation
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Thurgood Marshall College Fund

MISCELLANEOUS ISSUES

A more accessible lock for DTLA’s back alley. We’re happy to report that Steve was able to work on it a few nights ago and the issues seems to be resolved. If anyone feels the door is still problematic, please let Mark or Chavelia know.

A pay raise and hazard pay during the pandemic. Every employee has received an average 5% pay raise every year since 2014, including last year during the pandemic. Our non-salaried employees currently take home anywhere between $20 and $25 per hour, well above similar businesses in our industry.

All shops closed on Mondays for deep cleaning. We have considered this based on an ask that came up in one of our Town Hall meetings. However, when hours are already scarce, we do not believe reducing hours even further is beneficial. While we want to be respectful to everyone’s concerns, we do follow local, state and federal guidelines and are able to deep clean during operating hours, which doesn’t require us to close the shop.

Paycheck Protection Program. The purchase and renovations of our third location, Creamo, was funded through a bank loan we received in 2019. Those renovations were completed in February of 2020, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and related restrictions. We applied for and received a PPP loan in April, 2020, and used that money as it was intended - to help cover payroll expenses, rent, and utilities during the pandemic.

Employees have a say in changes to business operations. Donut Friend has always and continues to value the input from its team with regard to how it operates, and have provided many avenues for that input to get to management. We believe direct communication is the best and encourage anyone with a thought or suggestion to come and speak with one of us using the channel most comfortable for you.

Give employees days off on election days, including primaries and midterms. We believe in civic engagement and encourage all of our staff to exercise their right to vote. We have donated to organizations such as FairVote.org and Fair Fight because we believe all Americans deserve to have their voices heard. We also closed the shops last November so everyone could vote or at least find comfort with friends and family on a very intense and overwhelming night. Finally, if the shop is open and a team member is scheduled to work, the team member has always been allowed to take up to two hours (at the beginning or end of the shift) to vote in an election.