As the hospitality industry continues to face turbulence, it’s more important than ever for employers to staff their businesses efficiently and leave no-one short of the hours they need or want. 

The link between employee engagement and productivity is well established by now. The more positive and secure an employee feels in their role and organisation, the more likely they are to perform to the best of their ability and stay for a significant period of time. To stay ahead, employers need to pursue a proactive, not reactive, strategy for delivering a good employee experience. 

The events of the last fifteen months or so have only strengthened that need in the hospitality sector. 

Amid mass furloughs, redundancies and lockdowns, hospitality workers have less overall confidence in the sector – indeed, a recent CODE report revealed hospitality workers were overall 8% less likely to recommend the sector as one to work in since the pandemic. Sadly, mental health across the industry has also declined: research from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) indicates that four out of five hospitality workers report increased stress from their work, with one out of five listing it “as a cause for major mental health concerns”.

So, what can employers do to prioritise their employees’ morale and wellbeing? Well, the answer to that one is too long for one single blog post. But there is one thing that many employers miss… 

The cost of inefficient staffing

We hear a lot about the negative impact of working too many hours, but the inverse can also be true. Employees that don’t feel like they are getting a fair allocation of work hours can feel frustrated, short-changed and generally less engaged. As opposed to other sectors, hospitality is characterised by inefficient staffing practices, meaning that a misallocation of working hours is a day-to-day reality for many workers – something that they would not really have to experience in other industries. Because of the sharp peaks in trade that venues face during the week, businesses tend to need lots of staff for those peaks. However, there aren’t enough hours to go around in the rest of the week for such a high number of staff and this is what results in frustration around hours.

‘Speaking from my own experience of working in hospitality – in quieter periods, hours are always dropped,” explains full-time bar worker Rosie Snedden. “This is always really difficult, as you know you’ll be roped back into doing lots of hours again as soon as things pick back up. It leaves you feeling under-appreciated and not knowing if it’s worth being in this industry at all.”

As we all know, people have different motivations for entering the industry. Some people are looking for a fulfilling long-term career; others, a bit of spare cash to fund their studies. Irregular or infrequent shift patterns work for no-one.

Hospitality general managers and owners should take this problem seriously not only for the frustration and anxiety it can cause for the individual, but for the wider cost on team morale. In the same way that Premier League football managers take care not to build too large a squad, for fear of alienating the out-of-favour players and triggering a wider revolt, or at least a fall in standards and morale, the same should apply to managers in hospitality. 

But that’s not easy to do, and a change is needed to make it possible.

What can be done?

The solution appears straightforward: retain a lean workforce and take care to divide the shifts out equally among them. 

The trouble is, in hospitality, making that change is not straightforward. . Unlike many other industries, there are incredibly intense periods and times when things all but grind to a halt. (Not to mention unusually high levels of employee churn and ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions to contend with.) 

Creating a balanced rota in which each employee gets a fair and adequate number of shifts is not easy. When you fix one hole, another one quickly appears. Employers are forced to equip themselves for the busy periods and ask many of their employees to take a step back during quieter periods, damaging morale in the process. 

While traditional staffing models fail to adequately solve this problem, the flexibility offered by Stint can make things a whole lot easier, as our industry partners often attest. 

With Stint, you are able to maintain a smaller core team equipped to deal with quieter periods and then top up with students to cover the basic tasks during busy periods throughout the week. This way – ensures your core team members get the shifts they desire (and deserve) every week and you get a happier, more engaged workforce. Win, win. 

With employee wellbeing on the agenda now more than ever, it’s time to put an end to this age-old issue once and for all.