I was speaking to a friend the other day who has worked as head waiter for one of London’s best restaurants for the last twenty years. We were discussing the good things about our industry and the first thing that came up, not surprisingly, was money. He told me that when he first started the money was great but, in actual fact over the last ten years his wages have stayed the same. It is true that wages over the last ten years have pretty much flat lined. Hourly rates might have increased, but Tronc has dropped off evening everything out. It also doesn’t look like there’s going to be any growth soon, and with rents increasing more pressure is being put on profit and that’s definitely not good for wages.
There’s no doubt that recruitment is becoming harder and harder. I hear from a lot people that there’s just not the same talent available anymore. If we want to attract talent into the hospitality sector I think the industry needs to look at how it’s marketing itself as cash is no longer the pull factor that it was. The hospitality sector is hard; long hours, emotionally draining, but it can also be hugely rewarding. There are not many industries where the stress levels are so high and the customers so close. If you haven’t got the right skills to deal with those emotional strains the job seems endlessly exhausting, and I’m sure the main reason why so many people leave the industry. They feel over-worked and under-rewarded - and I don’t just mean cash rewards.
If we don’t start looking at the sector as one that is skill-based, and don’t train people with the right soft -skills to do the job we’re never going to solve the recruitment and turnover issues.
Give people the right tools to un-lock their customers and create emotional connections with their fellow employees and the rewards will take care of themselves.