Meet Full Course’s Lissa Bowen

Lissa Bowen is the Chief People and Culture Officer at Full Course, the restaurant and development group that helps restaurants innovate and build their brands. She has been in the restaurant industry for nearly 30 years and has seen the industry’s hiring, retention, people and culture practices change along the way. However, she feels these current practices do not always meet the real needs of the employees the industry is serving.

Within her role at Full Course, Bowen oversees the company’s talent and culture and helps clients with their people and culture practices. She works directly with clients to create an environment where people love to work, articulating that through their employee value proposition. Bowen also works with them on recruiting and retention practices, talent management, and creating and expanding innovative benefits.

“One of the top reasons people leave a job is that they don’t feel like they’re growing within their role, or they don’t see an opportunity to move forward,” Bowen says. “We talk a lot about opportunities for employees to learn and grow both as an employee and as a person.”

When it comes to benefit packages, she thinks restaurants are behind the times.

“The benefits don’t meet the employees where they are in their lives. So, what I try to recommend is to find those areas where you CAN meet someone in their life. You want to offer a range of benefits that meets the needs of all of your employees.”

As an example, most restaurant workers are between 16-34 years of age. For someone in that age range, a 401k match probably isn’t a compelling benefit, whereas student loan matches or a scholarship would help to meet their more immediate needs. Childcare, transportation reimbursement, and paid time off are other innovative benefits Bowen recommends implementing.

“According to Black Box Intelligence, 66% of workers said they’d return to the industry if there were five things they could get: a reasonable wage, opportunities to learn and grow, flexible schedules, benefits like paid time off, and a culture that is pleasant to work with great managers,” Bowen says. “When you think about those five things, they aren’t unachievable. People in the industry just want to be treated fairly.”

To help strengthen the restaurant industry’s leaders, Bowen helped to create education modules for operators on the Full Course website. The company is working on more than 100 classes, some of which include workshops on finding good potential employees, creating a positive work culture, and how to retain top-tier talent.

When she isn’t putting together modules or improving clients’ hiring practices, Bowen can be found tending to her organic garden or the many aquariums in her home. True to the Full Course mission, she loves cooking and sharing meals with her three-generational family.

About Full Course

Full Course is a restaurant investment and development group that is changing the way that new businesses grow their brands. The company partners with restaurants in the early stages of development and helps them tell their stories by optimizing operations, developing strategies for sustainable growth, and connecting owners or chefs with the right investors or franchise partners. Full Course CEO and Owner Lauren Fernandez has spent almost 20 years in the food and beverage industry, first as general counsel and head of franchise administration for a large company with more than 4,000 restaurants in over 15 countries, and then as an operator of a successful restaurant group. Fernandez was recently named to Nation’s Restaurant News Power List. By providing support and expertise to burgeoning restaurant brands on the front end, Full Course is setting up a strong foundation for growth for them and their potential investors, from which they can successfully realize their dreams. Learn more at