Hospitality Staff

Hospitality Staff: How to Create a Positive Culture

The biggest problem faced by hotels, restaurants and hospitality groups is the high staff turnover. In South Africa alone, the annual hospitality staff turnover across all sectors had increased by 16% in 2021, with recruitment and training costs adding to an already stressful financial year. The sad reality is that quality hospitality staff are becoming harder and harder to find and even harder to retain. 


While many employers still hang onto the notion that if their employees can’t take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen, the high-pressure work environment where only the strongest survive is quickly becoming a thing of the past – especially in the wake of mental health issues and awareness. An international survey conducted with 17 000 employees across 19 different industries placed the food and beverage industry as one of the top three worst to work for. 


While the stressful and demanding nature of the hospitality industry will probably never change, a radical mind shift and conscious effort to improve one’s hospitality culture can greatly reduce the high turnover in hospitality staff, resulting in happy employees, customers and an increase in your bottom line. 


The Radical Mind Shift for Hospitality Staff:   


Long hours, physical and mental exhaustion, minimum pay and dealing with difficult customers are all part and parcel of being in the South African service industry. Employees spend the majority of their life at the workplace including at least 2 – 3 hours a day travelling to and from work without any sort of allowance. The high unemployment rate in South Africa means that most employees are desperate for work and do not see their position as anything more than “just another job.”   


Restaurant owners and managers have a vital role to play in our industry. In order to eradicate the stigma of toxic work environments in the hospitality sector, employers need to adopt a radical mind shift. This means taking an active role in creating a thriving work culture that supports hospitality staff by building morale and offering opportunities for career growth.

It is a fact that when employees are disengaged, the impact on customer experience, brand reputation and business operations can be disastrous. As an ally to the hospitality industry, Surv have come up with four ideas that can help boost your establishments productivity and restaurant culture: 


Invest in proper training and support structures:  


Regardless of whether you are hiring permanent or seasonal staff, all employees should be equipped to handle any given situation with a definitive training programme. This can range from understanding general house rules and regulations and payroll systems to being well versed in various codes of conduct and customer service ethics. 


Apart from the basic training, managers and employers should ensure that all hospitality staff are equipped to deal with advanced conflict resolution. This applies to fellow teammates as well as customers. Empowering employees to take accountability and to ask when they are not sure builds trust as well as a more productive employee-employer relationship. 


Team Building Activities 


Team Building activities are a great way to show your employees that you value their opinion. It provides a safe platform to address new ideas encouraging a dialogue and connection that strengthens mutual respect. The shared experience can help form stronger bonds between employees, shaping a camaraderie that can benefit productivity at the workplace. 


The Benefits of Benefits


Make benefits a part of your employee retention strategy. Ensure that all hospitality staff have access and a clear understanding of UIF, health and workman’s compensation. During the onboarding phase, find engaging ways of communicating types of leave they staff are allowed in a year. If you are in a stronger financial position, make sure that you budget for additional benefits. This includes parental leave, annual and performance based bonuses as well as profit sharing. 


R and R 


Rewards and recognition is a corporate buzzword that has proven highly effective in larger corporate sectors. Create a system that builds regular rewards and recognition programmes into your culture. This will encourage a greater sense of accomplishment and positive behaviour. When employees feel good about the work they do, they will naturally strive for consistency! 


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