Businesses must make the welfare of their staff a top priority, even if this means risking a small short-term loss of profit, says Kenny Blair
Millennials and Generation Z are now making up the majority of the hospitality workforce, and work-life balance is increasingly a hot topic for HR departments across the UK.
Today’s prospective, highly mobile workforce won’t put up with the working week expectations that many of us faced when beginning our careers in the industry.
Weekends and long hours are par for the course within hospitality – with trading days typically reaching 14 hours – but what can be done to improve the worklife juggle for our teams?
Here at Buzzworks Holdings, people are our best asset and we know that work-life balance is an important factor in getting the best from our teams, as we listen to our staff and respond to their needs.
For the past four years we have surveyed our people every six months and work-life balance has always been in the top three areas of importance.
We also participate in a national hospitality survey each year, and work-life balance consistently appears in the top three areas of importance across the industry.
Hospitality must be seen as an attractive career with development opportunities, good pay, job security and great conditions – not, as my guidance teacher once told me, something to do ‘until I got a real job’.
There isn’t a definitive solution, but some of the ways we have addressed worklife balance within Buzzworks have seen positive results.
The clear message from our people is that time off is more important than money, so we offer time back in lieu for salaried staff and have capped overtime as well. Yes, some of our people will have to work extra to cover illness, spikes in business and staff shortages, but any hours worked over an agreed limit are paid back in time off.
Another method we have found to be successful has been our pledge to give each individual 12 weekends off per year. We also only ask our full-time staff to work three nights per week, meaning time with friends and family who don’t work in hospitality.
Reducing the working week for our salaried staff who were working 50 hours, with no loss of pay, has been worthwhile even with a business cost associated with this, as staff are more motivated when working.
Offering a four-day week to our salaried staff in the kitchen is valued by employees. They can spend quality time away from the workplace and return fresh and ready to go.
Buzzworks is happy to sacrifice some short-term profit for long-term gain, with reduced staff turnover, lower recruitment costs, lower training expenditure and ultimately better customer service. Other businesses should really consider this. The industry asks a lot from our people; however, with a few small changes we can have a happy and engaged workforce across a vibrant, modern hospitality sector which is seen as a credible career choice.
Kenny Blair is the owner of Buzzworks Holdings