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From meeting new people and making a customer’s day to exciting work and ample opportunities for progression, we know first-hand that a career in hospitality can be incredibly rewarding. Despite Brexit woes, the hospitality industry continues to grow and 2019 saw the revival of the pub; with the number of bars and pubs rising for the first time in a decade. Yet despite the perks, holding on to talented staff can be a significant challenge for some restaurants, hotels, pubs and bars. So much so that staff turnover in the hospitality industry is double that of the national average. However, with three in ten hospitality workers leaving their job within just a year, it’s not immediately clear what’s driving it.

At OpsBase, we are passionate about making strategy, operations and the working day easier, so we commissioned research which surveyed some 200 hospitality workers to investigate exactly what makes them feel most valued in their jobs. Whether you’re on the frontline in the hospitality industry or working as a pub, hotel or bar manager, café owner or event’s organiser, this short guide explores our study’s findings and will give you some tangible tips on how to motivate, engage and ultimately prevent unnecessary staff turnover.

What did our survey highlight as pain points within the hospitality industry?

The initial findings of our study highlight the importance of understanding what makes your team players tick. The work environment can have a significant impact on your staff’s motivation and how valued they feel; 40% of hospitality workers surveyed said they had been upset by a boss, colleague or customer at work – while 44% said that they have felt regularly fatigued. 50% said that they have experienced work stress or felt anxious in their roles. This can vary by the type of hospitality sector you work in. Experiencing a low mood at work is most common for venue staff (63%), fatigue is more prevalent than average for pub or bar workers (67%) and events staff (71%), and hotel and restaurant workers may be very slightly more prone to feeling stressed (51%). When thinking about how to manage a team, it’s important not to dismiss mental health at work.

How to work towards improving staff motivation

Our previous study on hospitality workers’ pet peeves in the industry suggests that reducing the number of long shifts, unreliable shift patterns and the number of unsociable hours that are required of workers would go a long way to alleviating employees’ most common frustrations. However, staff retention runs deeper than that. It’s important to note while this study provides valuable insights on common themes within the hospitality industry, each situation is unique and individual. So, opening up the floor, discussing issues with team members and taking proactive steps to improve working conditions and the environment can be hugely beneficial to helping your team feel more valued and motivated at work. Start by finding out what it is that bothers them. By getting the best out of your workforce, you’ll no doubt be well on your way to smashing your KPIs out the park!

So, what is it that makes hospitality employees feel more valued at work?

Appreciation and recognition

Based on our survey results, the primary experience across all types of workers in hospitality businesses when it comes to feeling valued (aside from better pay) is receiving more appreciation and recognition from managers, with 47% of those surveyed selecting this option. When you break it down further into separate businesses, it’s the events staff leading the way with a huge 71%, closely followed by venue staff at 63% and in third place it is hotel employees at 54%.

So, how to appreciate staff? The good news for managers is that recognising and appreciating your workforce’s contributions can be easier than you might think. To inject a little inspiration, here are three simple ways to show appreciation to your staff (that you may currently be overlooking the power of):

  1. Think about what makes you feel valued at work. It can be as easy as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ more often. It’s commonly overlooked, but going the extra mile to be polite can make all the difference when your team is in the midst of a stressful wedding breakfast or a sunny Saturday lunch shift. Let your team know you’re grateful for their hard work.

2. Take the time to remember certain things during the day that individuals did which went above and beyond or were really helpful. Then highlight their efforts during a team meeting. By publicly thanking a team member for specific tasks, you’ll not only make that individual(s) feel appreciated, but it may also motivate others to want to receive the same recognition in front of their peers. Just make sure you share the love and avoid unconscious favouritism.

3. Learn a little bit about your team’s personal interests. Whether it’s their favourite football team or just what they’re up to at the weekend, investing a little time in personal chat, or suggesting a group social based on their interests, will go a long way in helping team players feel like you care.

We also recommend simply speaking to your team to see if there are any quick wins. For example, restaurant staff may really value a decent free meal on their break, or a drink and a well done at the end of a busy night may help your bar team feel more valued. Other things to think about are staff awards programmes, an employee of the month scheme or token gifts and prizes.

“Having a team pot for tips and financial contributions has been a surprisingly useful incentive for our team. It’s been about more than simple financial reward, as when we hit our targets it meant that we were able to take the team on a holiday to Benidorm. It’s also just about showing your appreciation and fostering a sense of community and belonging that helps the team to feel valued and a part of the business.” 

Chris, Restaurant Manager, West Sussex

Feeling respected by customers and peers scores highly among pub and bar (52%) and hotel (46%) workers. However, this can be a tricky one when it comes to team management, as it can be easier to encourage employees to respect each other than it is to ensure that customers treat your staff with respect. As the saying goes, ‘the customer’s always right’, and granted, you have a responsibility to balance the welfare of your staff with the need to maintain excellent customer service and satisfaction levels. However, do not tolerate clear disrespect from customers to your workforce or ignore an employee if they are finding customer relations a challenge. When customers are frustrating your staff, be a soundboard for your employees’ frustrations and provide them with support and training on how to deal with more difficult customers. To help you get started, here are 10 handy tips to dealing with an angry restaurant customer.

If there’s a problem with colleagues not respecting their peers, this is going to need more managerial work on your part. Mindtool.com recognises 5 steps to take if there’s disrespectful behaviour amongst your team, but here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Be a good role model by acting appropriately – be understanding, professional and fair
  2. Don’t ignore the problem
  3. Deal directly with the culprit
  4. Listen – there’s two sides to every story and when the situation is unclear, find the facts and avoid rushing to conclusions
  5. Follow up on any offender

You can read up on each of these elements on how to deal with rude colleagues on their website so it doesn’t escalate.

Flexible working hours and shift patterns

Offering flexible working hours and shift patterns goes a long way when it comes to helping staff, especially for those working at venues, with 50% selecting this as an experience which would make them feel more valued. Even across the board, a third (33%) of those surveyed chose flexible working hours, so it’s important not to ignore the issue. Plus, it’s proven to aid in retaining employees.

However, with so many pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and venues needing to remain open during unsociable hours, is it feasible? If flexible working hours or flexible part time work is not something you already offer your employees, a good place to start is by exploring whether it is possible to ask team members to put together a flexible work schedule proposal which fits around both the team and the needs of the business. This can also be a great team building exercise and there may be compromises that can be made that will appease all. Even if practicalities make flexible working difficult, they’ll have a renewed understanding of why shift patterns are the way they are. Here’s some further tips on how to successfully implement a flexible work policy.

When thinking about working hours, it may also be worth considering whether anything can be done to help those who are regularly on unsociable shift patterns or on zero hours contracts. With unreliable shift patterns being the second biggest pet peeve from our previous survey, whatever you can do to rejig rotas or provide a consistent base of work (even if only in the short term), will go a long to motivating your employees and making them feel more valued.

Create and nurture good working conditions

Based on our survey results, 2 in 5 (40%) hospitality workers feel that better working conditions would make them feel more valued at work, with venue (50%) and hotel staff (45%) coming in at the top. Working conditions can refer to things like employment terms, but more commonly refers to the physical work environment. This is another factor which is intrinsically linked to staff retention and low staff turnover, therefore something which is well-worth investing in. When it’s busy it can be easy for simple standards to slip unnoticed, so remember to:

  • Regularly revisit hygiene factors.
  • Make sure everyone is aware of and trained in the health and safety standards for the business, and most importantly abides by these.
  • Do some research on salaries, are your employees being paid fairly for the work they’re doing? Often, long term benefits of staff retention outweigh any short-term cost savings.
  • Are there any additional perks you could introduce?
  • Ensure the working schedule is as fair as possible.
  • Revisit your tipping policy – are tips distributed fair and evenly across your team?

Software programmes like OpsBase make it easier for managers to keep on top of operations and ensure consistently high standards and a positive working environment, which can have a big impact.

Do late shifts play a part in how workers are feeling?

We also asked our hospitality sample about how many late shifts (past 9pm) they worked on any average week. The most notable results show that 71% of events staff work 1-2 late shifts per week, with 61% of pub or bar workers completing 3-4 late shifts per week. The latter correlates with the high level of fatigue noted by pub or bar workers, but interestingly, only 18% of those workers seek more time off in between shifts to rest. For events staff, this is quite the opposite, with a massive 57% looking for more time off in between shifts. This suggests that more flexible working options may be a beneficial move for events staff to help them feel more valued and motivated.

Can tech aid in problem solving and improving working conditions?

We’ve already highlighted good working conditions as one of the main contributing factors to helping staff feel more valued at work – and tech is increasingly leading the way in helping hospitality managers in this endeavour. New software platforms such as OpsBase have intuitive task management software applications that can help managers to improve work flow, as well as functions to improve effective team communication and manage day-to-day operations and issues. In addition to streamlining operations, OpsBase’s reporting software also helps managers to identify superstars on their team – ideal if you’re developing an employee of the month of staff recognition scheme. The great thing here is that Opsbase’s software incorporates all these features (and more), into an easy to use platform for you and your team. You can check out how it all works on our product features page. Whether you’re a hotel, restaurant, pub or bar manager – our task management software can help.

Daily task management, issue resolution and team communications, all from one platform.

OpsBase software is designed for busy restaurants bars, hotels and retailers. Manage your day-to-day operations on the move, report any issues with the click of a button, and communicate with your whole team, across multiple sites, all from one easy to set-up, simple to use app.

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