The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, announced the launch of Coca-Cola Leader Lab, a people-centric leadership program that addresses a significant issue facing the future of foodservice: attracting, developing and retaining an engaged frontline workforce.

Labor challenges, particularly the high turnover rates of frontline service employees, continue to be primary concerns of the foodservice industry. According to the most recent National Restaurant Association survey on restaurant business conditions, more than six in 10 restaurants are understaffed and 79% of operators say their restaurant currently has job openings that are difficult to fill. Although wages continue to be a driving factor in attracting talent, 70% of the variance in frontline employee engagement and performance is attributed entirely to frontline managers, according to a 2022 Gallup Workplace study.

 Coca-Cola saw a tangible opportunity to support its foodservice and on-premise partners in solving this issue. 

“No single foodservice brand can fix this problem on their own. As more of Gen Z enters the workforce and steps into leadership roles, the entire industry needs to think about how they are attracting and developing their current and future frontline talent,” said Dagmar Boggs, Coca-Cola’s president of foodservice and on-premise for North America, in a statement. “As a total business partner dedicated to helping our customers grow their brands, Coca-Cola is uniquely positioned to provide an industry-wide solution that will help equip and transform our current and future foodservice leaders.”

Through actionable, video-driven content, Coca-Cola Leader Lab helps develop frontline people-leaders by giving them the skills they need to grow in their careers and help others grow in theirs. The program is hosted on an easy-to-navigate website, and its quick-hitting, “bingeable” video modules account for the minimal margin of time foodservice employees have for additional training. 

The training modules focus on building core capabilities in an engaging and relevant way for a multicultural audience of emerging Gen Z leaders. Participants will gain insights into six transformational leadership skills, with an optional add-on module on culture building:

  1. Casting Vision: Starting a leadership growth journey by knowing the direction and why
  2. Critical Thinking: Turning obstacles into opportunities that improve team performance
  3. Communication: Communicating in a way that is simple, specific and connects to both hearts and minds
  4. Conflict Resolution: Understanding conflict types and how to create a plan for resolution
  5. Collaboration: Knowing how, where and when to include others
  6. Coaching Mentality: Embracing different perspectives and actions to achieve specific results

“It’s no secret that a brand’s customer experience will never be better than its employee experience. Employees are naturally wired for growth, and there’s a critical need for foodservice brands to improve how they engage and foster the professional growth of their frontline teams,” Boggs said. “Coca-Cola Leader Lab gives our partners a meaningful way to invest in the frontline individuals directly responsible for driving their customer loyalty.”

Coca-Coca Leader Lab is free to all Coca-Cola’s Foodservice and On-Premise Partners.