Creating a Positive Work Culture to Promote Employee Retention

Last Updated on April 29, 2022 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

A  high level of staff retention enhances an organization’s capacity to accomplish its goals. 

As a hospitality business consultant, Natalie DiBattista helps businesses to resolve the biggest challenge of staff retention in the industry.  

Natalie DiBattista is the guest in this episode of the Process Breakdown Podcast. She discusses with the host, Chad Franzen, about her experience in building systems for employee retention and engagement.  

Listen to the audio interview

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Show Notes    

[0:26] Intro    

  • Chad Franzen mentions some of the past guests who have been on the show including David Allen of Getting Things Done and Michael Gerber of the E-Myth. 
  • Chad Franzen introduces SweetProcess, a workflow tool that helps businesses to streamline their operations even in life-or-death situations.    
  • SweetProcess offers a 14-day free trial without a credit card.  

[1:25] Chad Franzen introduces the guest, Natalie DiBattista. 

[1:57] Natalie gives an overview of what DiBattista Consulting does. 

  • DiBattista Consulting is a hospitality consultancy. The business was established during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

[2:57] How does Natalie’s former job as a director of operations impact her role at the consultancy? 

  • Natalie’s experience as director of operations helps her to get a handle on everything from oversight of profitability, budgets, recruiting, and assisting with marketing initiatives. 
  • She’s currently focusing on developing an effective methodology for recruitment and staff retention at DiBattista Consulting. 

[3:51] Natalie talks about her previous role as director of operations at Live. 

  • Natalie was the director of operations for food and beverage at the organization. 
  • She kept the food and beverage operations running 24/7 throughout the year. 

[4:51] What informed Natalie’s decision to focus on recruitment and staff retention at DiBattista Consulting? 

  • Natalie’s decision to focus on recruitment and staff retention was inspired by the staffing needs of the hospitality industry. 
  • Following the pandemic, organizations faced a staffing problem and needed to get the right people on their teams. 

[5:36] Natalie sheds light on how she helps organizations get the right employees. 

  • Natalie ensures that she understands the specific staffing needs of each organization and caters to them based on their unique needs. 
  • She helps businesses look appealing to the work demographic they target.  
  • She looks out for people who are pleasant, personable, hungry, and eager to learn.  

[7:52] What are the most important criteria for hiring employees in an organization? 

  • Natalie asks clients for the top three criteria they want the ideal candidates to possess. 
  • You have to be flexible to identify the important qualities in prospects beyond educational qualifications and consider if they have the skillset for the job.  

[8:51] Natalies gives insights into how organizations can be attractive to potential employees. 

  • The hospitality industry isn’t necessarily known for work flexibility. However, flexibility is essential in getting the most out of employees.  
  • It’s important to hire an adequate number of employees so you don’t overwork the few ones on the ground. 

[10:13] How can organizations retain their employees? 

  • You need to have one-on-one interactions with your team members to understand their needs and concerns. 
  • Give employees the necessary support they need to perform better and achieve a healthy work-life balance. 

[11:28] Natalie talks about more ways to attain success in retaining staff. 

  • Make sure that your team members aren’t just an employee ID but a part of the organization. Get to know everyone.  
  • Assure team members that they can count on you for help. 

[12:34] Should managers make it a priority to retain employees for long in their organizations? 

  • Retaining employees for a long time is good but it’s not common in the hospitality business. 
  • You need to continuously challenge your team members to perform other roles in the organization for long-term retention. 

[13:35] Natalie talks about the difficulties she has had with retaining staff. 

  • The dire need for staff in the hospitality business makes staff retention challenging because there’s always another organization offering more than what you are paying your staff.  

[14:19] What’s the importance of diversity and inclusion in an organization? 

  • You have to make room to accommodate the various demographics of staff in your organization. 

[16:44] How can people find out more about DiBattista Consulting? 

  • You can visit the DiBattista Consulting website for more information about their services.  
  • You can also check out the DiBattista Consulting LinkedIn page

[17:04] Natalie highlights some actionable steps for staff recruitment and retention. 

  • The definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. 
  • Look outside of the box and identify how you can do things differently.  

[18:11] Outro

About Natalie DiBattista 

Natalie DiBattista of DiBattista Consulting

Natalie DiBattista is the founder and chief executive officer at DiBattista Consulting, a hospitality consultancy. With more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, she has successfully opened over 18 properties and overseen $40 million in operations.  

A former director of operations at Live! Casino and Hotel, Natalie is also a wife and mother of three. 

Transcript of the Interview

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Chad Franzen: Chad Franzen here, co-host of the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your staff everything they need to be successful at their job. Past guests include David Allen of Getting Things Done and Michael Gerber of the E-Myth and many more.

Chad Franzen: This episode is brought to you by SweetProcess. Have you had team members ask you the same questions over and over again and this is the 10th time you spent explaining it? There’s a better way and a solution. SweetProcess is a software that makes it drop-dead easy to train an onboard new staff and save time with existing staff. Not only do universities, banks, hospitals, and software companies use them, but first responder government agencies use them in life or death situations to run their operations. Use SweetProcess to document all the repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time so you can focus on growing your team and empowering them to do their best work. Sign up for a 14-day trial, no credit card required. Go to That’s sweet like candy, S-W-E-E-T

Chad Franzen: Natalie DiBattista is founder and CEO at DiBattista hospitality. She has over 20 years of experience in the industry and has successfully opened over 18 properties and overseen $40 million in operations. Previously, she was director of operations at Live! Casino and Hotel. She’s also a wife and mother of three.

Chad Franzen: Natalie, thank you so much for joining me today, how are you?

Natalie DiBattista: I’m great, Chad, how are you? Thank you for having me.

Chad Franzen: Yeah, thank you, my pleasure. Hey, so tell me a little bit about [inaudible 00:01:55] consulting.

Natalie DiBattista: Sure. It was a business that kind of happened out of the pandemic, like so many others. Much like the rest of the world on March 16th, or shortly thereafter, I was furloughed and it was the first time in my adult life-hood that I had never been employed or working. And I couldn’t sit still. I started reaching out to people and people were reaching out to me like, “Hey, do you know anybody that can help me with this?” et cetera, and I said, “Hey, I think there’s a business here.” My husband fully supported me and he said, let’s do it. So-

Chad Franzen: [crosstalk 00:02:37] Yeah, go ahead.

Natalie DiBattista: So I started a business, then I was helping out smaller restaurants throughout the pandemic, helping them fill out PPE paperwork or licenses for cocktails to-go or streeteries, et cetera, here in Philadelphia.

Chad Franzen: And you had previously been a director of operations, how does that kind of apply to what you’re doing now?

Natalie DiBattista: Oh my gosh. All of it really has prepared me for this. I’m able to apply myself to whatever that restaurant group or that restaurant tour’s needs are. And it’s everything from oversight of profitability, budgets, P and Ls, things of that nature, to recruiting, to assisting with marketing initiatives and kind of overhauling what they’re doing to attract more businesses. And what I’m doing a little bit of right now is… Or a lot more than before is that recruiting piece, finding those employees and finding those managers, that are going to be perfect for each outlet.

Chad Franzen: Sure. We’ll get into that a little bit more, but can you tell me about your previous job as the director of operations at Live!?

Natalie DiBattista: Sure, I was their director of operations for food and beverage, or for restaurant operations, and that was amazing. I started with them before the pandemic, was furloughed, they graciously brought me back and we opened an incredible property. It’s a $300 million property in south Philly, gorgeous space, over eight food and beverage outlets. It was a great experience and really an amazing education, and 365, 24/7 food and beverage operations. Just a fantastic group, truly, truly amazing people and it was hard to leave, but life has a funny way of forcing your hand at certain things, and I took that opportunity.

Chad Franzen: You kind of talked about how your focus right now is on recruitment and staff retention. What led you to kind of focus on that?

Natalie DiBattista: Really the needs of the industry, and not just hospitality industry, but really every industry across the board currently. Everyone went from being fully operational pre-pandemic to having to shut down or drastically cut down their workforce. And now, here we are, trying to ramp up and how do we get the right people to walk in through your door? And really that’s an area where I think that I’m able and… Knock on wood… I’ve been successful in trying to help some of these groups really stand out amongst the other people and really kind of say, what can we do differently?

Chad Franzen: So how do you get the right people to walk through their doors?

Natalie DiBattista: That’s a great question, and every restaurant’s different and every outlet is different, or every concept is different. It’s really a matter of sitting down and saying, what do you think your needs are right now? And everyone says, “I need staff.” Great, but what kind of staff do you need? Where are some areas and holes and opportunities where we can kind of work on? And then, from there, it kind of says, what is the company doing to make themselves appealing to this work demographic? And that really is everything.

Natalie DiBattista: We’re talking about an industry that was really hit hard and still struggles. And we’re talking about an industry of workforce that is saying, “Hey, maybe this isn’t the type of thing I want to continue doing.” So, we’re trying to say, how can we appeal and how can we introduce ourselves to people that maybe never thought of a role or an opportunity within hospitality.

Natalie DiBattista: And it’s saying… this is something that I’ve always done, and it’s always worked for me, even pre-pandemic. I always hire the person that I want in my building. Meaning, I hire them for the qualities that I can’t train, which means they’re pleasant, they’re personable, they’re hungry, they want to learn. And I can teach them almost any skillset. And I always find that those team members are the ones that stick with me longer, they’re the ones that… and almost within the restaurant industry or hospitality industry… have followed me and have grown with me. And I call it your management tree. Now, there’s all these great people in great positions and I can’t help but look back and say, wow, that’s great, I had a hand in that.

Chad Franzen: How do you… Is there a mind shift that you have to have with your clients? Maybe it’s different in the hospitality industry, but I’ve looked for jobs, and if you don’t check every single box, no matter how wonderful of a person you are, they find somebody else.

Natalie DiBattista: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, the old phrase, “Beggars can’t be choosers,” really applies here. And that’s where I look at these clients and I say, “Give me your top three criteria. Do you really need that bachelor’s degree to do this job? Or are you really kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face?” And, of course, depending on the position, yes, you absolutely need that. But, on some opportunities, there’s amazing life training, or there’s amazing on-the-job education that is just as important, or just as comparable, to that bachelor’s degree. So it’s switching that mindset a little bit sometimes.

Chad Franzen: What have you found that people have done to… when you say, “What are you doing to make yourself attractive to these potential employees?” What is an example of something that maybe somebody did like, “Okay, yeah, that’s a good idea, let’s try and change that,”?

Natalie DiBattista: A lot of it sometimes, depending on the position, is remote work or being incredibly flexible. I mean, the hospitality industry isn’t necessarily known for its flexibility. Usually you’d say, “Hey, this is what we’re hiring for, this is what we need. If you can’t do this, then we don’t need you.” And it’s really trying to break them of that mindset and saying, “Hey, now let’s look at it and how can we be a community? How can we be a family in this restaurant? And how can we help each other out?”

Natalie DiBattista: There’s so few people that are back to work five days a week in one location, because they want that flexibility. So I sometimes have to beat it into them to say, “We’ve just got to look at it differently.” They think I’m crazy sometimes, but it does, and it has worked. You can’t, if you have five shifts that you need open, you can’t just hire two people, now we have to hire four people, sometimes five people, but in the long run, it’s working out.

Chad Franzen: What about retaining staff? We talked about kind of recruiting and getting people to walk through the door. How about keeping them in the door? What are the kinds of things you’re working on there?

Natalie DiBattista: Retention is huge. Making sure that you’re sitting down with your team members is so important and it’s silly sometimes, but really one-on-ones and sitting down and saying, “Chad, how’s it going? What do you need this week?” Or, “What are you looking for? What have been some of your struggles since you started?” And not just offering lip service, but really validating any concerns that they have and seeing how the restaurant, or that industry, can support that team member, especially with any guest-facing or customer service position.

Natalie DiBattista: It can be hard. It can be very taxing. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart and sometimes we need to be there and be able to support and be able to say, “You know what? Let’s change this up for you so that you’re not guest-facing, perhaps you’re not customer service five days a week. Let’s change it up so that you’re doing that two days or three days a week and give you a bit more of that quality of work balance.”

Chad Franzen: My next [crosstalk 00:11:19] question was, oh, sorry, go ahead.

Natalie DiBattista: No, go ahead.

Chad Franzen: My next question was going to be, what are some successes you’ve had in terms of retaining staff? Is that kind of an example?

Natalie DiBattista: That’s definitely one of the examples. The other piece is really getting to know everyone. Make sure that your team members aren’t just an employee ID. That’s so, so important. It doesn’t mean that you need to invite them over for dinner, you need to blur those personal lines, but really trying to understand and get to know your team and saying, “Wow, you’re going to school for this,” or “You’re trying to start your own business, that’s amazing. If you ever need help or if you ever want to bounce something off of me, ask me and I’ll be happy to spend 10 minutes with you and kind of give you some pointers.” I think that those are the things that are far more valuable than a paycheck.

Chad Franzen: In that business is there kind of a… Do you think that managers, or whatever, should make it a priority to, or know that maybe not everybody is there for the long term, but to keep people in there as long as possible? You know, like if somebody’s a college student, keep them there for four years and then be like, great. Great four years.

Natalie DiBattista: Yes! That’s exactly it. And being okay with that natural turnover, right? That organic turnover. You may find that one employee that’s going to be with you six, seven years, but within the hospitality industry, it’s not that common. And not only that, I think that people want that diversity, they want to be challenged. And that’s the other piece, how are you challenging your team members? Just because they are so proficient in this one area doesn’t mean that it’s their fault and you should pigeonhole them. You know, ask them, say, “What do you want to learn next?” And if their answer is “Nothing. I’m fine. I’m happy,” then that’s great too. But you’re going to be probably, more often than not, surprised that they’ll say, “You know, I’ve always wanted to learn X,” or “Hey, if there’s ever an opportunity where I can help a manager on the floor one night a week, I’d love the opportunity or the exposure.”

Chad Franzen: What are some difficulties that you’ve had in terms of retaining staff?

Natalie DiBattista: The difficulties lie in the fact that the entire market, hiring market, across so many industries, is in such dire need that, although we may hire somebody at a specific hourly rate thinking we’re competitive, or… And I say, we from whoever that client is, or even in my past, especially in my past… And we feel great about it, but there’s another restaurant or there’s another employer down the street that’s throwing so much more money at them and we can’t compete. And then we’re just kind of… Those are the things that are going to happen. Not everyone can afford to pay a line cook $25 an hour. You know, you just can’t.

Chad Franzen: What kind of focus do you place on diversity and inclusion? My wife actually works in HR and she kind of has to research why white people stay there at her company for eight years, for example. I don’t know, for an example. And minorities stay for one and a half. What kind of focus or insight do you have on that?

Natalie DiBattista: I think that’s such great insight that she’s looking into that and I think that a lot of the things that are put in place in certain companies are geared towards a Caucasian or a white demographic. And I think that if you do those one-on-ones with your team members and you really understand your workforce, you may understand that it’s far more important for the Latino… Which I am… Demographic to have certain holidays off. You know, that’s far more important to us and it’s kind of shifting in changing those things.

Natalie DiBattista: For instance, in my past, at one particular location, I had a very large Asian demographic and they were upset that there wasn’t representation, from a food perspective, in the cafeteria that they could enjoy. And I said, “You’re absolutely right.” So we made this huge initiative to bring in rice cookers because that’s what they wanted. And we asked them, we asked them flat out, “What do you want?” And they said, “We’d love some rice, it’s a staple of ours,” or “We’d love even some hot soup or hot tea.” Great. We can do that. And I think that it’s getting in touch with your workforce and finding out what’s important to them because it just doesn’t translate. It just doesn’t translate. You know, we can’t continue to operate thinking that what has worked historically will continue to work for us.

Chad Franzen: I have one final question for you, but first, how can people find out more about DiBattista Consulting?

Natalie DiBattista: Sure. They can definitely go to my website, We also have a LinkedIn profile as well as Instagram and Facebook. So we’re all over the place.

Chad Franzen: Great. Last question: what are some action steps that people should start doing right now, based on some of the advice that you’ve just given today?

Natalie DiBattista: Probably the biggest takeaway that I would suggest is really taking a hard look at their own business and saying, you know… At some point in time, if you were having such a hard challenge hiring X amount department or X amount of staff, hold up the mirror and say, “What can I do differently?” Because at some point in time, change has to happen.

Natalie DiBattista: They say that the definition of insanity is continue to try to do the exact same thing and expect a different result. And that’s absolutely where we are. Absolutely. And look outside of the box and say, “What can we do differently?” And it’s a hard question, it’s a really hard question, but I think that if you take those hard steps now and you really look at it, then you can lay out a plan as to what to do.

Chad Franzen: Hey, Natalie, thank you so much for your time today, it’s been great talking to you and you’ve had some great insights. Thank you so much.

Natalie DiBattista: Oh, thank you so much, I really appreciate it.

Chad Franzen: So long everybody.

Natalie DiBattista: Have a great day.

Chad Franzen: You too.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Process Breakdown Podcast. Before you go, quick question. Do you want a tool to that makes it easy to document processes, procedures, and/or policies for your company, so that your employees have all the information they need to be successful at their job? If yes, sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. No credit card is required to sign up. Go to, sweet like candy, and process like Go now to and sign up for your risk-free 14-day trial.

Owen: Hi, this is Owen, the CEO and co-founder here at SweetProcess. If you’ve enjoyed listening to this podcast interview, actually, you know what I want you to do? Go ahead and leave us a five star review on iTunes. That way, we get more people aware of the good stuff that you get here on this podcast. Again, go on to iTunes and leave us a five star review. Looking forward to reading your review! Have a good day!

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