The workers, which hospitality recruitment business Sixty Eight People connected to The Morning Advertiser, opened up about the importance of feeling valued at work, and gave insight into why people leave the industry, and how operators could retain staff.
The panel was chaired by Lumina Intelligence commercial director Ed Sibley and took place at live music venue Band on the Wall.
It was the work, life balance of hospitality that made Cloudwater Brewery sales manager Nat Gretton “fall out of love” with the sector during Covid. She took a step back from the industry having worked in it for 10 years.
TwentyTwenty bartender Martin Cross, who had been a bartender for seven years, agreed hospitality takes “a lot out of you”, and the pandemic gave time to reflect on the struggle to balance work and life.
Rudy’s Pizza assistant manager Melike Sahin believed pressure due to the stresses of Covid had funnelled down from the top, meaning staff had begun to embody those feelings. “We don’t want to work insane hours and get nothing for it,” she said.
While all on the panel agreed rate of pay was important to an employee, some did not believe it was the most important thing. Mission Mars training and people manager Summerleigh Watson said she liked to keep in tune with her team as much as possible, and always asked people in interviews how important their rate of pay was to them.
Values at work
However, she believed if the work environment was poor, the general consensus was that person would not stay in the job. Environment, team members and how the company looks after you were more important than pay for Summerleigh. However, she did add, “it’s why people turn up to work, to make money, at the end of the day.”
Alchemist server Kieran Jones agreed environment should come before pay. The happier you are, the more money you make, he believed, as your mood reflects onto the guests.
However, Mayfield Depot sales and events manager Zara Warn disagreed. With the staffing shortage the industry is currently facing, hourly paid staff know they can just go to work at another venue which paid more if they wanted to.
With bills going up, and young people wanting to go to events, which often costed a lot of money, Zara said they needed to fund it somehow.
Rebuilding confident teams
Australasia server Sebastian Rusu, who has been in hospitality for five years, added to this point. “If you want to build a family, it’s even more expensive than that,” he said, and believed companies should start offering rewards to those who had worked in the company for a while.
Mel made the point that companies should sell themselves to you as well as you selling yourself to them. Furthermore, Summerleigh said hospitality did not have the same pick of the lot of staff as it did before Covid, making it “extremely hard work” to rebuild a team after the pandemic.
“Without the team, it’s just an empty building,” she continued. “Your concepts can be amazing, but without the people, you have nothing.”
For Kieran, it was important to feel appreciated at work. This could be through a raise, but it could also be a comment such as ‘we really appreciate you here, what can we do for you?’
Sebastian felt the same way, and said owners saying thank you and appreciating hard work could go a long way. Natalie also wanted owners to say, ‘you’re doing really well, cheers’.
“If you invest [in people], you get that back, tenfold,” said Martin.