Strengthening the Employee Value Proposition and Using AI to Optimize HR Processes

The Next Practices Weekly call series has become a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion for HR leaders each Thursday at 11am ET / 8am PT. On this week's call, i4cp's Chief Research Office Kevin Martin, and i4cp Senior Research Analyst Tom Stone, facilitated a conversation with special guest Sarah Hansen, SVP of Human Resources at Dutch Bros Coffee. Here are some highlights from the call:

  • 93% of Dutch Bros shop employees are members of Generation Z - The "Zoomers"
  • They did research, including on-site work by corporate employees (Hansen included), to learn the key characteristics of these younger employees. One aspect is unique to Gen Z (and younger Millennials) -- "Technology Native". Other characteristics are not unique to Gen Z employees, but tend to be more pronounced, including: Financially Minded and Pragmatic; Concerned about Equity and Inclusion; Engaged in Political and Social Activism; Struggling with Mental Wellness; Informed; Interested in Development (Professional and Extended Education); and Expecting Personalization.
  • Given all of these characteristics that influence not only Gen Z employees, but employees of all ages, Dutch Bros is doing a lot to improve and maintain their employee value proposition (EVP):
    • Providing snackable trainings
    • Deploying more text message activations
    • Leaning into self-service
    • Prioritizing base wage
    • Promoting retirement savings & education
    • Offering more PT hours
    • Launched 3 ERGs
    • Deployed year-long education series - “the basics” and non-profit awareness
    • Providing more transparency into our Sustainability efforts and local giveback day results
    • Offering Mental Health First Aid Training
    • Promoting our EAP suite of services
    • Launching Calm app in 2024
    • Developed the “Creative Collective”
    • Building Dutch Bros Radio
    • Refining Education Benefit Program to go beyond traditional 4-year education
    • Providing flexibility in work schedule
    • Leaning into gap year & summer internship programs
  • Hansen explained how they are using AI so far in HR at Dutch Bros, giving these two examples:
    • Using ChatGPT in a limited way in conjunction with Skills Cloud in Workday to create skill lists that are relevant to each role but not too lengthy.
    • They use ZenDesk for their HR service desk ticketing system and they are starting use AI to help prioritize the tasks as volume continues to increase.
  • Hansen described the skills and characteristics she is most looking for in HR professionals today, with the first being agility, adaptability, and the willingness to learn new skills in the face of constant change. Another is problem solving skills, including the ability to look for root causes and then find solutions.
  • When asked what Hansen is focusing her HR team on the rest of this year and into 2024, she noted working on an internal talent marketplace (using Workday) to increase internal talent mobility. Since they are very strong on the US west coast, part of this will include learning which employees might be interested in moving elsewhere to help establish stores as they grow in other regions.

Links to resources shared on the call: