Poacher proof your hospitality business – tips to retain your best workers

Written by Vic Hamblin
hospitality retention

In a recent article, we shared tips on how to stand out from your competitors in the aggressive hospitality recruitment market.

Where poaching the best staff is commonplace, furloughed members of your team are not returning and workers are leaving the sector in droves, it is important to ensure that you are doing everything possible to retain good workers.

We will be sharing some tips on how to keep your staff happy, make them look forward to coming to work and give them little reason to think the grass is greener elsewhere.

Tips for retaining staff

Firstly, you need to ensure you are recruiting the best people to join your team. See our previous article, for some tried and tested tips.

Offer flexible working and guaranteed hours

It is important not to offer a one size fits all approach to employee hours. Take the time to understand the shift patterns that work best for each member of your team and their lifestyle.

Do they prefer longer shifts working fewer days or would they rather work shorter, more frequent shifts? Where possible build shifts to accommodate these requests.  When recruiting have a clear understanding of the shift patterns you have available and advertise accordingly.

Offering flexible working hours can be a real draw, whether appealing to parents, carers, those working around studies or simply having busy lives, offering an alternative to the traditional 9 to 5 will be an attractive proposition for many people.

It is also important to understand burnout, ensure that your team members aren’t working unreasonable hours and encourage a healthy work-life balance.

Culture and communication

Create an open and honest environment, host regular meetings with your team where feedback is encouraged. No one knows your business or your customers better than your front of hours staff, so acknowledge all ideas and when appropriate, act on them.

Don’t be afraid to ask the following questions:

  • What have I got right and where can I improve your working environment?
  • Do you ever feel overwhelmed?

Always be listening to what is happening during shifts. If you pick up on issues, address these head-on and fix them quickly.

Ensure that senior members of your team have bought into your business’s values and high standards, this will encourage other members of staff to follow their example.

Support your employees. For example, when dealing with unreasonable customers it is important that your team feel that you have their back. Act as a sounding board, coach and give them the skillset to cope with difficult situations, and when necessary, show leadership and intervene.

The result will be your staff will feel trusted and respected by you, their colleagues and your customers.

Training and career paths

What if I train them and they leave?” “What if you don’t and they stay?” — W. Edwards Deming

Ensure that you train your staff on all aspects of their role. Get new members of the team to shadow top performers, this will encourage good practice from day one.

Offer additional training to grow their skillset and allow them to take on more responsibility, this will ensure that standards are maintained whilst covering sickness or holidays of more senior members of the team as well as empowering more junior staff.

Reward top-performing employees with a promotion to create a culture of growth that encourages other employees to work harder because they see a future with your venue. To help identify these top performers, review sale reports from your POS and monitor those who regularly do more than their job description.

Investing in your teams is a great motivator, not only do you have a more skilled, confident workforce but also a loyal one: everyone benefits.

Pay, benefits, recognition, incentives and perks

Regularly benchmark salaries and benefits across the local hospitality sector, ensure that you are in line or offering more than your competitors.

It is not always about financial reward, quite often a simple thank you or public recognition of a job well done is enough.

Offer incentives such as employee of the month rewarding hard work and commitment.  Offer the occasional daily/hourly incentive, this approach is effective when you need to energise teams after a long week or stressful shift. Again, this doesn’t need to be monetary – the chance to come in later for their next shift or leave early can be just as motivating. Take this opportunity for you to cover their shift. This will demonstrate a willingness to muck in, helping to create an atmosphere of collaboration and team ethos.

It is also important to recognise and reward great teamwork, a well-run establishment relies on all teams across the business working well together, you need to create and nurture a positive team spirit across all areas.

As mentioned in a previous article, recruitment referral programmes not only work well for the employee (monetary bonus) but are also cost-effective to the business.

Perks – host seasonal parties, most hospitality establishments will be working their socks off in the run-up to Christmas and over New Year. Don’t forget to reward your team for all their hard work with a party of their own. When showcasing proposed new drinks and food items for your menu, turn tasting sessions into team bonding opportunities. 

Invest in the right technology

Spreadsheets are the bane of every business when trying to manage their staff rotas. The more complex your shift pattern becomes, increases the importance of having the right software in place.

Polaris Data would be a valuable addition to your software suite and is easily integrated with most existing hospitality systems (open API). Not only will you be able to manage your shifts effectively, but with Polaris Data you can also:
  • Manage holiday accruals – including costs
  • Once rotas are created you can publish them directly to your team
  • Automatically updates for key criteria including age, living wage etc
  • Enables you to optimise your workforce whilst managing cost
  • Intelligent guidance on staffing levels
  • Plan staff using forecasting and historical sales data

Polaris Data also includes a fully integrated employee app, staff can easily view when they are due to work (and send reminders), as well as automatically track clocking in and attendance for each shift.

To ensure that all your employees are up to date with the latest information, (especially important during a busy shift).  Polaris Data offers internal messaging.  Update in real-time what is happening in your establishment, this includes: sold out menu items; promotions; problems with facilities; extra shift availability. The list goes on…

Polaris Data is a powerful tool, designed with hospitality at its heart, putting the information you need at your fingertips in an intuitive, easy to use system that gives you complete control managing your people and your processes.

Where possible you need to remove staff pain points. One of the biggest bugbears is outdated, slow and overly complicated till systemsAlthough the initial investment in a new ePoS system may seem expensive, the system will quickly demonstrate its added value and you will wonder how you and your team previously coped without it?

Polaris ePoS has all the features you need not only to make your business run smoothly. It is easy to use too, with product lookup and an intuitive, user-friendly interface, decreasing the stresses and pain points for team members during shifts.

The core features that your staff will find useful include:

  • ePoS can handle menu customisation
  • quick ordering functions
  • checks item availability
  • offers flexible promotions (by site)
  • integrated payment solutions
  • calculate complex charging structures (including pay by weight)

In addition, we offer a mPoS solution. Handheld devices for your front of house team, this enables you to increase the speed of service, improve order accuracy, offer prompts for up and cross-sell opportunities. All of which will help to support and enable your team to spend more time with customers and optimise their time on shift.

Further support, advise and information can be found on the BII and UK Hospitality websites


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