The hospitality industry is grappling with an ongoing skills shortage, which is continuing to pose a threat to the productivity of the sector. To support businesses in eliminating unnecessary inefficiencies, Steve Buckmaster, sales director at BRITA Professional, explores the main productivity challenges in professional kitchens and how hospitality businesses are overcoming these.
The hospitality sector is the UK's fourth largest employer, having grown quicker than any other sector since the 2008 recession . While the sector is booming, it's still one of the most challenging times with an ongoing skills shortage, a turbulent economic and environmental climate, and growing pressure from discerning consumers. To stand out from the crowd, hospitality businesses are implementing effective, innovative and creative ways to continually improve and develop.
Many would argue that the back of house operation is the backbone of all hospitality establishments and for a business to succeed, it needs to be operating as efficiently as possible. This is where the phrase ‘a well-oiled machine' springs to mind, yet many kitchens are experiencing a number of barriers to productivity.
We recently conducted research into the productivity challenges in kitchens today and found that 70% of hospitality professionals feel stressed in the kitchen (41% do so on a daily basis and 49% weekly) . The main factors contributing to this stress are:
• Staff shortages (59%)
• Unreliable equipment (47%)
• Producing quality food under pressure (45%)
A balancing act
Although times are changing, the hospitality industry suffers from a negative perception that working in the sector can often mean long hours and working weekends. To change this, many companies are implementing new ways of working to ensure employees have a good work life balance. This is particularly important for millennials - 34% care more about a work life balance than career advancement - so finding ways for staff to have downtime and valuable time away from the kitchen is essential.
Investing in training
With experts predicting that by 2029 the industry could have a deficit of more than a million workers , training can plan an essential role in helping to fill skills shortages in the kitchen. Well-trained staff will feel more valued, have greater productivity levels and result in higher retention levels. If you develop employees' skills they're more likely to discover time-saving methods and bring creativity to food prep - helping to alleviate time pressures currently experienced.
Finding the right equipment
Some 68% of hospitality professionals worry about the consistency of their food offering and for 69%, one of the main factors contributing to this is equipment not working properly . According to our research, 38% of hospitality professionals spend three-five hours dealing with equipment issues on a monthly basis - that equates to 60 hours wasted over the course of a year . You don't purchase a new piece of equipment thinking it's going to break down, so what can hospitality professionals do to limit the chances of this happening? There are the more obvious elements such as investing in high-quality equipment which is the right size for a kitchen, but also ensuring the capability of a machine matches the peak capacity of an establishment, investing in preventative maintenance solutions - such as a water filter fitted to combi ovens to prevent limescale build-ups - and implementing a routine cleaning and maintenance schedule.
We're lucky enough to work in such a vibrant sector where no two businesses are the same, so it's all about finding the most efficient processes and kitchen solutions which work best for the individual establishment, its staff and customer base. Ultimately, well-managed, customer-centric and creative businesses will stand out in the crowded marketplace.
For more information on BRITA Professional's research into the main productivity challenges in kitchens, please download the Life is Better Filtered: The Collaborative Kitchen report here.