From the Blog

How Robin Dilley, Chili’s restaurant manager, is improving the employee experience

Robin Dilley started as a server at Chili’s — owned by Brinker International — in 1999. Fast forward 18 years, and he’s a restaurant manager and a “super-user” of the Brinker Wellbeing Program.

“What keeps me here has changed over the years. At first I just loved the brand and my experience as a customer. Then it was the friends I made. We were just like family. Later it was the ability to relocate to be near a friend battling cancer. As time went on, people noticed that I was prideful about my job and they supported me in pursuing a career as a manager.”

Despite his commitment, when the great recession hit Robin had to close the restaurant he first managed.

“Your heart’s attached to making that business succeed. It becomes personal. Today I’m constantly pushing to not let that happen again. Some people think I’m hardcore, but I’m just really passionate about the brand.”

Building a positive culture at work

Robin goes above and beyond the call of duty for a restaurant manager. He believes in trust, transparency and makes sure employees know the resources available to them as individuals. That includes the Brinker Wellbeing Program – powered by Limeade.

“My team members face all kinds of barriers to health and well-being. They work sporadic schedules which makes it hard to create a routine for eating and exercise. It can also be draining to greet hundreds of customers in a single shift. We emotionally put everything we have into the job —  so going to the gym after work is a challenge.”

Robin also has a young staff, with front-of-the-house employees ranging in age from 18 to 26. As is the case with many Millennials, health benefits can be an afterthought. To keep well-being at the forefront, Robin over-communicates company benefits and Brinker Wellbeing Program activities to his team. He provides an overview to new employees when they start at his restaurant. He makes sure other managers are fluent in the program so they can assist when he’s not around. And he meets with employees individually to make sure they have what they need to succeed.

“One of my employees was very concerned about doing all the required activities to make sure he was eligible for the first Brinker Wellbeing Program reward, but he kept forgetting. When the deadline got closer, every day I’d remind him. For the people that aren’t sure how to log in or claim their points, I’ll set aside five minutes at the end of the shift to walk them through it.”

A personal commitment to well-being

Robin draws from personal experience to inspire his team.

“I’m a person that uses the program a lot. I have an illness that requires me to use my insurance and my costs out-of-pocket are almost nothing. I’ve experienced how valuable a great benefits plan is and I want everyone else — especially young people — to see that.”

Years ago, after moving to a new state, Robin found himself eating poorly and gaining weight. Through the Brinker Wellbeing Program, he discovered Naturally Slim, a weight loss program that’s integrated into the Limeade technology.

“For the 12 weeks of the program, every team member heard me talk about food,” said Robin.

Then, after taking a Well-Being Assessment, he found he was at risk for diabetes. He chose to participate in a new program — Revive — designed to create healthy habits through education, diet and activity. Most recently, the program challenged him to find a partner in his journey, so he enlisted his dad living across the country. They set up a shared calendar for daily check-ins to hold each other accountable.

Robin’s commitment to well-being didn’t go unnoticed. In early 2017 he won a raffle for a $5,000 travel voucher — competing with other employees across the country who’d reached the Brinker Wellbeing Program’s top incentive level.

“I showed up at 8 a.m. to open the doors — and there was the Regional Vice President, my boss, and other restaurant managers. Suddenly I’m being awarded with a giant travel voucher. It was really cool. I’m planning to use it for a vacation this fall — somewhere tropical or maybe Europe.”

Best of all, Robin’s staff took notice.

“My Director of Operations said to me, ‘I need to know more about this program’ and my team members saw there was a little fun at the end of the game if they participate. It definitely lit a candle for a few people.”

Feeling the impact

“My restaurant has half the turnover of others around the country and I think that’s because of the trust and transparency we provide. If there’s a change coming from corporate we present it in a positive way and explain that we’re all in this together.”

Robin also believes well-being contributes the bottom line.

“One of my best bartenders has fallen off his fitness regimen and every time he starts working out more and feeling better, he does better at work. I notice he’s better with his customers, better with his performance, his speed and ability to do his job. When our people feel good — our customers feel the difference.”

Want to learn more? Check out how Brinker International serves up whole-person well-being to team members at Chili’s and Maggiano’s.