A new year brings fresh, innovative ideas for club food and beverage along with exciting, endless possibilities and creative potential for the months and seasons ahead. In addition to forecasted food trends for 2019 (Georgian cuisine, savory donuts, unusual salad greens, seed-to-table cooking) a few non-food trends this year will be top of mind for many in the industry. Among them: food waste reduction, gender equality, sustainability initiatives and not the least, health and wellness.
When we think of what our members and customers are focused on in terms of healthy food preparations and holistic approaches to lifestyle, we may neglect considering the well-being of our staff and the environment they work in day after day. With labor markets currently in such tight circumstances, it would seem like common sense to maintain a healthy work atmosphere that is fun, challenging and rewarding. If we think about measures that encourage wellness among the team and initiatives that emphasize professional development we might just positively influence employee retention.
Hospitality careers require long hours and many demands on a person’s lifestyle. The industry has been known for high stress and internal and external abuses such as addiction and harassment. Removing stressors, chronic dysfunctions and frustrations that undermine the wellness of the team’s ability to perform smoothly is a positive exercise. From an outside perspective, without the acknowledgement of the personal, human component, a highly functioning F&B operation is one where each system is studied, assessed individually, and then calibrated to fit into the complete organizational structure in a way that moves the whole machine forward with maximum, affirmative results. We may sometimes see past the very real human element and take for granted the individuals that comprise hospitality.
In the New Year, do a wellness check on the people and processes in your food and beverage department:
Are your onboarding procedures thorough?
Are you providing useful training and career opportunities for your staff?
Is the workplace clean and safe?
Is essential equipment necessary for a functional service in working condition?
Is the relationship between front and back of house respectful?
Do you offer a healthy, thoughtfully prepared “family meal” to the team?
Does employee performance indicate that your leadership is helping to teach responsibility, accountability, time management and a strong work ethic?
Initiatives as seemingly simple as consistent scheduling, clear direction with daily tasks, meaningful staff meetings and time off for workers in order to incorporate balance in life and work are important ways to keep good employees engaged and devoted to their existing duties, and also keep them from wondering if something better might be out there for them. These actions will improve your team’s well-being, which will enhance their job performance and lives away from work.
Putting in extra effort to train and define expectations is so crucial to the whole team, whether they are recent hires or tenured staff. Those who are new to club food and beverage operations may not be aware of the many differences in club service and public businesses. Top-performing long-term employees have skills and institutional knowledge that create additional value a business cannot afford to lose. Managers who create motivators and develop programs that enhance team performance with ongoing individual coaching and attention can have an advantage in staff retention if the intent behind those efforts is genuine. If the perception among employees is that you really want to use training programs and department events to show that you respect and appreciate each individual’s contributions and efforts, and care about their overall well-being and development, the more impactful those efforts will be.
In the routine, cut and dry cycle of recruit, reward and retain, this year, let’s show real hospitality to our own people by providing a pathway to well-being and success and resolve to “spread the health” at each opportunity.
Chef Mary Howley is the culinary consultant to the RCS Hospitality Group and a former Executive Chef of her own catering company, several country clubs, and fine dining restaurants. She studied throughout Europe and honed her skills on the East Coast working with a myriad of culinary styles. She had the honor to serve as research and development chef for Food Unlimited, and held the position of Pastry Chef in two James Beard Dinner Events.