Christmas is approaching fast. No surprise I hear you shout; it comes at this time every year. Most businesses have been planning for the festive season since June or July, writing menus, designing brochures, creating e-flyers etc. However, things are different this year……….
All the plans were made before we really knew about the increase in operating costs were known, food prices, fuel prices, staffing costs, recruitment issues, also no rail strikes on the horizon then either. It truly is a difficult and concerning time for all in the industry. Obviously following the festive period there is the New Year to look forward to and what will that bring? Not a lot of improvement sadly, for what is normally a happy New Year.
Many operators we have spoken to have commented that the closedown for the pandemic was the worst thing ever to have to deal with, then along came re-opening and trading with huge restrictions, another nightmare. However, what we have to deal with now is being felt as a more difficult challenge than both of the previous situations. It is obviously a massively stressful time for all in the industry from owners and managers to the teams delivering the service to their guests.
I would like to try to be optimistic, the hospitality industry is the most resilient industry out there, we have managed to cope with massive challenges in the past. I would also even suggest that we have come out the pandemic as a better industry, working together in collaborative ways and caring for the staff with more compassion than before. We have issued several Hospitality Health Wellbeing Charters since 2021. This is such a satisfying task to carry out and is a just reward for the operators who are making a difference to their hard working staff. It is hoped that this recognition will assist in retention and also recruitment for the coming period. We know what great work Mark and the team at Hospitality Rising are doing to promote the industry as a career choice as are UK Hospitality in lobbying the Government for changes that would help all in the industry.
The other positive thing I am noticing is that there is still a huge appetite to open new venues across Scotland from hotels and restaurants to bars and cafes. Just this month the Irish Delata hotel group opened the Clayton hotel in Glasgow a further 303 rooms for the city. A group who takes care of its staff and has had no real problem recruiting for their opening. Delata has increased considerably their staff food allowances within the hotels, just one thing that makes a difference during this cost-of-living crisis.
All businesses can make a difference with the benefits they choose to offer their staff, some are obviously more costly than others, however what owners and managers must weigh up are the hidden costs of not making a package of benefits to their staff, try to consider some of the following.
- Food while on duty
- Food while not on duty
- Supermarket vouchers
- EAP membership
- Staff discounts, both within and outwith the business
- Long service recognition
- Hardship fund support
- Support for driving lessons
- Pet bereavement days
- Day off on your birthday
- Charitable fundraising matching
So, it’s over to you, what differences can you make to help retain and recruit staff in what will be a challenging December and the tough trading period of 2023.
Chair, Hospitality Health