Increased demand for skilled, knowledgeable workforces in many industries prompts searches for standards and measures of occupation competency. Voluntary certification programs thus have emerged for non-managerial occupations, because they enable employees to meet standardized practices, recognize skills, and legitimize their occupation as a “profession.” For example, a voluntary server certification program might benefit to hospitality employees through increased compensation and advancement; management also might achieve benefits in terms of employee recruitment, selection, and retention. This thesis therefore analyses employee and manager perceptions of voluntary certification for service occupation employees.
Voluntary certification programs already exist for restaurant management and culinary staff, but no nationally recognized program is in place for the largest employable non-managerial group in the restaurant industry, namely, frontline servers. This study measures employee and managerial perceptions among fine dining establishments in Louisiana (USA) of a newly established national server certification program, established by the National Federation of Dining Room Professionals (FDRP). The study offers several hypotheses, predicting that the voluntary certification program (1) elevates the occupational status of employees and enhances employee commitment, (2) increases occupation compensation and advancement, (3) validates skills and knowledge and establishes standards of practice, and (4) gives management a positive means to recruit, select, and retain employees.
The research findings provide reliable data that validate the intrinsic and tangible occupational benefits of a voluntary certification program. This study therefore is of interest to industry leaders, trade associations, and restaurant managers who want a better understanding of how employee recruitment, selection, and retention can be affected by voluntary certification of fine dining servers.