Keep them keen

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Related tags: Staff, Chef, Cook, Alcoholic beverage

Mark Taylor considers methods of motivating and retaining good staff With more and more pubs turning to food as their main source of income, skilled...

Mark Taylor considers methods of motivating and retaining good staff

With more and more pubs turning to food as their main source of income, skilled and fully-trained staff are harder than ever to find. More importantly, they are even harder to keep hold of unless you look after them and reward them well.

So, how do you incentivise your staff and make sure they don't start looking for alternative employment?

Of course, a good starting point is money and making sure you are paying them well for the job they're doing. This may mean paying staff a slightly higher-than-average salary,

but if it means they'll stay with you longer

(and they're worth it), then it's a small price

to pay.

But money isn't the only thing that encourages staff and you need to be constantly looking at new ways to motivate them.

Ask the average person in the street

what inspires them at work and many of them will say things like job satisfaction, opportunities for self-development, being given responsibilities and generally feeling like

they are being appreciated and recognised by their boss.

The pub industry is a notoriously-tough business with long, unsociable hours in often difficult conditions. You need to make sure that your staff know that they are valued and reward them at any opportunity. This can be in the form of anything from bonuses and free drinks at the end of a busy evening's shift to making sure all members of the team are invited to meetings and are involved in making decisions.

Ten ways to incentivise your staff

l Offer your staff regular bonuses, either based on GP (gross profit) in the kitchen or on how much profit the business makes overall

l Involve your staff in all aspects of

the business

l Let your chefs have free rein when it comes to writing menus

l Get rid of the "them and us" culture and encourage the kitchen and front-of-house staff to work as a team

l Try to be as flexible as possible with working hours and try to let people work the hours they want to

l Let your staff have their birthday as a holiday or as a day off in lieu with pay

l Organise competitions in the kitchen to encourage chefs to come up with new dishes - perhaps putting the winning dish and chef's name on the menu

l Enter your staff for industry awards such as the PubChef Awards to boost morale and raise profiles

l Recognise success, either by a simple 'thank you', a free drink or a small gift

l Make sure all tips are shared equally between staff, from the kitchen porter to the head chef.

Check out the competition

Nikki Yabsley, manager, Webbs Inn and Restaurant,

Liskeard, Cornwall

"As well as making sure staff get full training and are able to go on any specific courses they want, part of the staff motivation here is paying for them to eat and experience food in different places. As well as paying for them to eat in this pub, we also take them out for meals at other establishments so they can see what other places are doing.

"Once a month, we go out together as a group, which is good for team-building and adding a social side to the business. In the kitchen, we motivate chefs by encouraging them to do training qualifications with a local training agency. We encourage the chefs to go out to other restaurants to get ideas, but as we have seven pubs and restaurants in our group, we pay for them to visit those establishments, but also give them the opportunity to do shifts at other sites so they can share ideas.

"We are about to start a new 'employee of the month' competition where the head chefs, managers and bar supervisors will get together to decide which member of staff in the company is eligible for that. The winner will get a one-off prize of £50 that month. At the end of the day, we want our staff to feel appreciated and motivated so every little thing we can do helps towards that."

Role reversal

John Armstrong, owner/head chef, the Puesdown Inn,

Compton Abdale, Gloucestershire:

"You've got to lead by example and you can't expect somebody to do something that you're not prepared to do yourself. In the kitchen, this sometimes means it's good to reverse the roles occasionally and let the head chef peel and chop the shallots and ask other chefs to take more of a lead in the kitchen during the service if they are up to the challenge. If you see that sparkle in a young chef, then they're worth motivating in that way.

"On a day-to-day basis, I think it's the little rewards that people appreciate, whether it's a free drink at the end of the night or a free meal on their day off. At the end of the shift on Saturday nights, we all sit down for a pint and a pizza, on Sundays after lunch we all sit down for a roast dinner like a family. The staff seem to enjoy that and they feel more part of the business and more comfortable.

"You've got to listen to your staff and take on board any comments or ideas they have. If they see that you've acted on something they have suggested, that makes them feel good and they feel more involved and connected with the business.

"Once a month, one member of staff is invited to come to this pub on their day off and have a free meal, but they have to give me a full report of their meal. They are very honest with their comments, but I think it's good for them to see things from the view of the customer. At the end of the day, we want customers to come back and sometimes it's difficult to see the business from the other side of the fence unless you've experienced

it yourself."

Time out together

Justine Stockton, manager, 5 Degrees West, Falmouth, Cornwall

"The main thing is working with your staff, getting them involved in all aspects of the business and letting them see their ideas being used. You have to remember that many members of your staff want to be creative and satisfied too.

"Most chefs are very passionate about what they do, so it's all about giving them the freedom to get involved with menus, rather than giving them a bog-standard menu that they don't have much say in. We do everything as a team here and we all work together on things, such as the menu, and we all have tasting sessions, so both front-of-house and the kitchen know everything about the food.

"I think it's also important that you have a nice area where staff can relax when they're not on duty - we have a nice room with a balcony where they can take some quality time out. We reward staff with bonuses or free drinks, depending on the day, and also have a few fun competitions such as seeing which chef's dish is the best-seller on a particular night. The winner will get a free drink after the end of the shift.

"Our place is also very open-plan, including the kitchen, and I think that's good for morale because the kitchen can talk to the front-of-house team, but also to the customers. The kitchen is right next to the bar and often the customers will come up and buy the chefs a drink or just thank them for their meal, which as far as job satisfaction goes is worth more to them than anything else."

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