May 14, 2019
Thinking about taking on some staff to lift the burden a little? If that’s the case, then there are basics of hiring, as well as the simple steps of training and inspiring teammembers, when it comes to taking on new staff.
Hiring and hanging on to employees has long been a challenge in the hospitality sector but the process looks set to become even harder.
Pub and bar operators are recruiting from a “much smaller pool than in the past” due to both falling levels of unemployment and fewer young workers, according to Sandra Kelly, UK skills & policy director at training consultancy People first International.
“Demographics are conspiring to put further pressure on employers,” she tells the Morning Advertiser. “By 2022, there will be 700,000 fewer 16–25 year olds and 3.7m more over 50s. This has a particular impact on hospitality and tourism recruitment because the sector has traditionally recruited young people.
“A third of the current workforce are under 25, which is twice the proportion found across the economy as a whole.”
So what can you do to improve your chances of attracting and retaining candidates?
The first step is to clearly demonstrate what you can offer them both in terms of career progression and perks.
The days when 60+hour weeks were considered normal in the hospitality industry are “long gone”, explains Sam Beech, talent manager at the New World Trading Company. “More emphasis has been placed on wellness, work life balance and employee happiness.”
It also pays to have an honest policy. Beech insists businesses can be the best in the world at recruiting “incredible” people but warns that they’ll soon leave if employers fail to “live up to the dream” they’re selling.
Kelly, who was formerly head of education at Whitbread, points out that younger staff are “highly discerning”, will take an “in-depth look”  at what you can offer them and are motivated by different factors than the generations before them. As a result, she says, they need to be engaged and “managed differently”.
“They want to have a sense of purpose and achievement. So the onus is on the employer to be responsive and flexible and to demonstrate that you can accommodate their needs.
“Motivating and managing millennials requires clear communication of expectations. They also respond well to more encouragement and praise than you may be used to giving.
“One good tip is to model the behaviour that you want to see. Also, this digital generation are used to things happening fast, so speed and efficiency are important. You may lose them along the way if it’s a long and drawn-out interview process.”
In terms of training, Paul Chase, head of training and licensing at CPL Training, cautions against an educational approach that is “too theoretical or abstract” and advises employers  “keep it real”.
“Talk about the actual environment in which the staff member will be/is working and what customers are looking for in terms of the guest experience, how staff can read customers’ feelings and respond in a way that establishes empathy.”
He advocates a blended-learning method comprising a mixture of face-to-face, e-learning and on-the-job training that is both engaging and takes place in short bursts.
Meanwhile, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, warns pubs and bars against rushing to recruit staff. “Invest time in the selection process and don’t just hire the first person who applies,” she advises. “You want your staff to be chatting to your customers all day, all week long, so they need to be the sort of person who will thrive in this environment.”
So where’s the best place to find new recruits? “Our research also shows that the way that employers advertise is changing radically,” says Kelly.
“There is now a far greater use of targeted social media campaigns and apps replacing job boards and ads. This means that small pubs have the opportunity to attract good candidates, but here again it is important to be clear about the role so that expectations are met.
“We’d also encourage employers to build a strong relationship with their local college in order to develop a talent pipeline.”
Kelly claims that People 1st accredited colleges are full of young, enthusiastic people who are eager to build a career in the hospitality industry.
“There are lots of ways you can develop a relationship with your local accredited college. Offering work experience for students, running masterclasses and providing CPD opportunities for college staff are just a few of them. In return, accredited colleges offer access to confident, work-ready staff.”
Apprenticeships, too, should be a consideration - especially for smaller pubs, she adds.
“Our own research shows that three quarters of hospitality employers have found better retention rates and improved skills and personal development from their apprenticeship programmes. In particular, they said they were finding apprenticeships valuable as a recruitment tool.”
More inclusive hiring practices can also yield candidates, according to Sophie Wingfield, head of policy as the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
“Name-blind recruitment could help to prevent prejudice based on gender or ethnicity,” she explains. “Likewise, if bosses ‘ban the box’ requiring ex-offenders to declare details about their past at the beginning of the recruitment process, they could gain some excellent staff. Recruiters have an important role to play in challenging old fashioned practices and should promoted and open and transparent selection for all roles.”
Nicholls is calling on pubs and bars sign up to Hospitality Works, an annual initiative which this year takes place from February 14 to March 7 and will see the Department for Work and Pensions team up with The Springboard Charity, UKHospitality and the British Beer and Pub Association, to highlight the great career opportunities that exist within the sector.
Employers have the chance to organise taster-days at their premises enabling jobseekers to experience a day in the industry, host talks at local job centres, distribute leaflets and brochures and use the Hospitality Works 2019 hashtag #JobsWithASmile to join in the national conversation and promote their business.
“There are genuine opportunities to progress and build a career if you are determined,” Nicholls adds. “Employees can go from washing dishes or collecting glasses to running a kitchen or managing a portfolio of sites.
“Opportunities exist regardless of background. Employees can begin their working life without qualifications or experience and learn as they earn. There are relatively few barriers to success and growth in the sector.
“If you are determined to succeed then, generally, you will. Pubs should be communicating this message to candidates and potential employees to motivate and inspire the best to join them.”
Sam Beech, Talent Manager, New World Trading Company
We telephone screen everyone before meeting them rather than just emailing them and inviting them for an interview. This stops unnecessary interviews, no shows and save time for managers in the long run if they’re having to work around people who haven’t turned up. A telephone screening will highlight the superstars that have applied and also get buy-in from them.”
Don’t get too bogged down with lack of experience on a CV. Some of our best team members had zero hours experience in a busy restaurant and thrived. A previous manager of mine always reminded me that you can teach anyone to carry a tray, but you can’t teach an amazing personality.
Don’t assume that just because people have done similar roles, they won’t need as much or any training. Not only can this damage the reputation of your brand, but it can also leave your new hire feeling unwanted as you have spent less time training them.
All of our new hires receive training in their specific departments, working one-to-one with one of our site trainers. The first day is an induction to welcome them to the team, begin to introduce the company culture and talk through our company handbook. A great induction is the beginning of the team member’s journey with you, so make it a big deal.
Most of our directors and senior teams have all progressed internally or from the industry and have worked their way up from chef, bartender or server positions. Each of us is able to put ourselves in the shoes of our team members and understand exactly what their role requires. Our culture means that whoever you are, whatever role you are in, you roll your sleeves up and get stuck in for the greater good.
People learn in different ways and finding out which way is key. Every bit of training you hold for your team needs to be set out and structured but also tailored to who is in the session and specifically, how they retain information. This needs to be delivered in a fun and engaging way to keep people interested. It’s also important to review training every couple of months to make sure what you are delivering is still relevant.
Often many questions get asked at interview stage around holiday entitlement, pensions, staff discounts etc. We show them our ‘marvellous’ book of benefits, which is a clear example of everything we offer. This includes discounted wine, private medical insurance, education subsidies, a company pension, a paid day off to volunteer, a 50% staff discount and industry leading bonuses.
We use specific job boards. Each hire is tracked so we can see which board is the most successful. Some of the best success we have, however, is through word of mouth and through our company referral incentive. So if you refer a manager and they are successful, you receive £300 per year for every year they are with us. This is uncapped.
Cocktail bar business Be At One operates 34 bars and employs more than 500 staff. It was established in 1998 and purchased by Stonegate Pub Company last summer. Gillian Lambdon, the company’s people director, joined the business in April 2018 and heads up a team of ten. In that time she has helped launch a “big” recruitment campaign, beefed up career paths and watched bartender retention climb by 20%. So how has she done it?
“One of the biggest pieces of feedback we had back in May was that there wasn’t a lot for bartenders to do in terms of personal development if they didn’t want to become a manager,” she says. “So we revamped out career path.”
Now three specialist roles - a training coordinator, a flair specialist and a cocktail specialist – exist as part of its ‘Bar Academy’ training programme, which is professionally accredited by Highfield and the World Flair Association (WFA)
“We’ve done a lot of work building a detailed and clear career path for everyone so on day one they can see visually how they can grow within the business, how they can earn more money, how they can develop new skills sets and how they can have a very successful career with us,” she explains.
The Flair role is just one example. “It’s a bit like gaining your karate belts but you get your tins to shake your cocktails in. The WFA has a grading system whereby yellow is the very first exam passed then it climbs to orange, green and blue. Further awards can be achieved by entering many external competitions around the world.”
Like many businesses, Be At One utilises social media to attract the right candidates with a dedicated ‘people’ Instagram account and ‘careers’ Facebook page, which showcases the company’s culture. Word of mouth recommendations also drive candidates to their door.
“We’ve made good use of social media recently to get word out to potential bartenders about our recent accreditations so they know that Be At One can provide a long term career as well as industry recognised qualifications.
“Our employee value proposition is all about being a career bartender through these accreditations. Get paid to party, be the life, soul and energy, being part of the family… all of those things are the underlying values of the business. We’ve made several videos around being a career bartender and the kind of a career we can offer and we’ve had lots of success; our applications have trebled… I think the reputation of the hospitality industry overall is getting better. A lot of operators are realising that the more you invest in people, the longer the career they can have and I think industry training is better than it has ever been.”
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