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One size does not fit all when it comes to our staff

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One size does not fit all when it comes to our staff

We must consider and listen to the individual requirements of each member of our workforce, says Rohaise Rose-Bristow

It’s typical that at New Year we immediately focus on resolutions. Not just for ourselves, but for our businesses, as we reflect on what we could have and should have done better and where we can improve for the year ahead.

One resolution that sticks with me throughout the year is that of looking after
the wellbeing of our staff. Staff shortages, challenges in retention, difficulty in recruitment and the ongoing reputation management around a career in hospitality all strengthen the argument for looking after our own.

Mental health and well-being have been brought to the fore over the past two years and it’s great to see that staff welfare is appearing as a sturdy focus in hoteliers’ business strategies and HR implementation. Even if you run an independent, relatively boutique business like ours, you can still put some basic mechanisms into practice that will provide your staff with the vital and relevant support they need for their career.

At the Torridon we made the very quick and successful decision to engage with Hospitality Action. Most hospitality professionals will be more than familiar with its campaign to support the industry, but some may not be as aware of its excellent Employee Engagement Programme.

It’s impossible to ignore the discipline required to work in a hotel, as well as the hours, the demands and the sacrifices. We needed to ensure that our team had an external resource to lean on that didn’t involve speaking to their line manager. Providing this independent support gives staff the opportunity to discuss anything they want about the challenges or concerns they may have at work or at home. This small investment is just one of the ways we have been able to support our team.

What is vital in order to build a great team, however, is to demonstrate that you are listening, protecting and investing in everyone. One size does not fit all, so not everyone will feel the need to share, raise concerns, talk through their thoughts or show their vulnerability. Staff do not all have the same ambitions or home lives, so we can’t enforce a blanket policy that addresses generic scenarios – we must treat everyone individually. An open-door policy is great in theory, but we need to recognise that people aren’t great at coming forward on their own. We must make sure we find time in the diary to have a casual chat and let our teams know we are listening and we can help.

We need to give staff a better work-life balance. It’s not easy to balance running what is a seasonal business for many of us with managing rotas that give people a respectable and reasonable amount of time to spend at home. We are endeavouring to build a business that provides regular long weekends to enable people to really rest and enjoy their free time. Is it working? I’d like to think so. Is it easy to deliver? No. It’s hard and it can put a strain on the business, but to build a successful team within hotels, we have got to start listening more and adapting and evolving our working practices.

We listen to our customers all the time, but we really need to listen to and hear what our people are telling or showing us and recognising that, despite the challenges of running a hotel, this must be a real focus for 2018. One size doesn’t fit all and it’s time to embrace the individuality of our teams, which makes our service and industry so unique.

Rohaise Rose-Bristow is co-owner of the Torridon hotel, By Achnasheen, Wester Ross

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