Lessons that hospitality businesses can learn from other businesses.
By Daniel Wade, WPA Healthcare
Before I share my experiences with you, I feel it would help if I shared my background so you can understand why I am quite uniquely placed to talk about this subject. I left school and attended catering college and worked as a chef for three years. I worked at a high-end brasserie in my hometown of Lewes in East Sussex where I was part of the team that opened the venue. We did breakfast, lunch and dinner with an average of nearly 300 covers per day. Like most kitchens at the time (early 2000’s), we were understaffed and overworked. We were doing 15-hour days, split shifts, 5 days per week and I loved it! I loved the pressure, the teamwork, the creativity, the feedback from customers.
The problem was, I also loved my social life. I have played sport all my life and particularly missed playing rugby which was impossible to do as a chef (like most chefs, I worked every Saturday). I missed not going to friend’s birthday parties and I missed the family gatherings. So, I decided to stop cooking and look for another career.
Luckily, this came about relatively quickly as it turned out lots of the skills I learned as a chef were transferable into other jobs. Hard work, teamwork, discipline, communication, thriving under pressure and so on. After working a couple of roles in sales and financial services, I joined my fathers-in-law business which provides private medical insurance and healthcare schemes into businesses. After doing a year within this business, I decided to ‘go it alone’ and invest in my own franchise in the same business- this was in 2009. This is where I feel I am well placed to discuss what hospitality can learn from other businesses. I have spent
the last 11 years dealing with businesses that actively look to invest in their staff as they know recruiting the best staff and then retaining them is paramount to the success of their business. The key word here is invest- they spend money on their additional employee benefits as they know this investment is often a lot less than the cost of recruiting or replacing staff.
This is an area where I feel that the hospitality is behind compared to other sectors. The costs involved in replacing or recruiting staff are very high! According to a study done by Oxford Economics, the cost to replace a member of staff earning £25k per year or more is over £30k! It’s not just the obvious costs (recruitment fees, job adverts, HR’s time interviewing etc), the biggest cost is actually lost productivity.
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So, why has it been so acceptable that staff turnover is high in hospitality? Why is it ‘the norm’? I want to highlight three key statistics from a YouGov study that UK hospitality have shared:
63% of people in hospitality that were surveyed said better pay and benefits would encourage them to stay in the sector
Only 11% said they chose a job in the sector for the pay and benefits on offer
Low pay and lack of benefits is the second highest reason why people leave the sector (behind unsociable hours)
Here are my top five things that I feel hospitality businesses could do better from working with a wide range of other successful businesses:
1. Put you people at the front of your business- these are your most important asset! Lots of hospitality businesses say they do this, but they don’t. Invest in structured team building events (not just going to the pub!), focus on having really good 1-2-1 meetings on a regular basis with each person. Send your team on external training courses to keep them engaged.
2. Look at how your business can work around your team’s social lives (I am a great case study for this!). I would have worked six days a week and would probably still be a chef now if I could have had Saturdays off to play rugby. Take the time to understand each persons needs and plan accordingly.
3. Invest in employee benefits! This will save your business money in the long term and will create a happier workforce. This does not have to be expensive- our healthcare schemes at WPA start at around £1 per person, per week which includes a mental health counselling helpline.
4. Create a mental health policy and create a culture where people can openly talk about their mental health. Mental health issues are the number one reason why people take long-term time off work so its in your interest to get this in place. Prevention is better than cure!
5. Provide a structured career path for each person in your team. Show them what they need to achieve to progress and help them achieve these goals. It is a win-win scenario that happens in lot of businesses but not really done in a structured way in the hospitality businesses I worked in.
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