Future proofing a business is always something that management teams and business owners strive for, and something that makes up a big part of forward planning and business strategy. One critical area to plan for in future proofing your business is in staffing your business.
If you’ve worked in a hospitality, tourism or customer-focused business you would know that the industry often gets a bad rap for overworking staff, or having unsuitable shift times. They can often also have working environments that don’t grow with employees as they grow, or allow for changes in circumstances when staff go on to have families, hobbies or other ambitions in life outside of work.
Hospitality jobs have long been seen as a stop-gap for many whilst they are studying or on their way to somewhere else. It’s only in more recent times that customer service roles in hospitality and tourism have been seen as career jobs.
But with the switch to a career focus in hospitality and tourism businesses, the businesses also need to grow with the changing times, and adapt to the employee’s needs.
Work-life balance and job satisfaction are now requirements for young people coming into the industry. When I started in hospitality, you were lucky to get a job, hours, and most of the time if you wanted a break during a shift, you needed to be a smoker otherwise breaks were few and far between.
But hospitality business owners and managers now more than ever before need to be offering workplaces that nurture skill, that consistently train their staff in product and service standards, and that offer life balance and flexibility to retain good employees.
So how do they do this? Well I think the first thing is a change in mindset from the ‘old school’ type of hospitality management where employees are treated more like a commodity than a human.
It might be possible to have rotating rosters that allow a kitchen team to alternate between day shifts for two weeks and night shifts for two weeks to allow staff more time with their families, or to get out and about to visit other venues so they stay current with service and food trends.
It’s also investing in training for staff frequently on product knowledge and service levels. After all you don’t know what you don’t know, so don’t expect staff to start in your business with a full suite of service and product knowledge. You need to train them and keep training them.
Try bringing in flexibility where possible for your team. This could be as simple as finding out what’s important to them when they start with you, for example; it might be a hobby they have, or every second weekend with their kids. Whatever it is for them, be open to being flexible with rostering where you can to retain good people for the long-term.
And it’s providing job security to those core staff in your business by giving them regular and in-advance rosters. You could consider putting them on salaries giving them the opportunity to have much-needed paid annual leave, and ensure that you look after your people by paying them on time, always.
Valuing employees goes a long way to building a strong and successful customer service team. They are at the forefront of your business, so investing in your people, their skills, hopes, and dreams is an investment in your business.
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: