How We're Looking After Our Staff | Hawksmoor | Hope For Hospo

13th October, 2021 in Industry

The pandemic showed us the importance of hospitality. The joy of sharing spaces where we can connect with each other, share food, catch-up with old friends, or meet new people. This is something that, until recently, many of us had taken for granted.

And as we begin to understand the importance these spaces hold in our lives, we hope this will collectively help others understand the importance of those who work within the industry, too.

After all, hospitality staff have felt under-valued and under-appreciated for far too long. And after furlough, many have felt they don’t want to return back to our industry, with job vacancies reaching the highest since records began and many outlets being unable to operate full opening hours.

Text reads: What If You Want To Priortise Staff Well-being But Are Still Financially Recovering From  The Pandemic?

These factors, partnered with hospitality being one of the poorest paid industries, has only added fuel to the fire. Some firms are recognising this and increasing pay to attract new staff. But what about those who are still recovering from the financial implications caused by the pandemic and “simply don’t have pots of money to throw at the problem” - Julia Kermode, co-founder of IWork.

So, in those circumstances what is the answer? What happens to those businesses who are struggling to attract staff? And most importantly, what can they do to retain their existing team members?

The answer, prioritising health and well-being.

We spoke to Madeleine Geach, Leadership Coach and Head of Culture at, The Hawksmoor Group (Healthy Hospo partner) about what Hawksmoor do to take care of their team, why this is so important to them, how they got through the struggles created by the pandemic and the plans they’re making to keep their foot on the gas towards a healthier hospitality for all.

Banner reads: "It’s important to make sure people in hospitality understand their value in order to battle   stereotypes of how people view their work."  "Valuing your employees is simply the right thing to do." - written by Madeleine Greach from Hawksmoor

Why is it important that hospitality staff feel valued and supported? And why do you think they’ve been neglected in the past?

In the past, hospitality has not been viewed as a real career, as though it was only something people did whilst studying or pursuing something else.

Those who know the industry properly know what a rewarding career you can have in hospitality and how many skills you acquire, from geeky drinks knowledge, an in-depth appreciation of wine and fresh ingredients, to the enormous responsibility that goes with managing people, stock and the safety as well as enjoyment of a room full of customers.

It’s important to make sure people in hospitality understand their value in order to battle these stereotypes of how people view their work. And also, because valuing your employees is simply the right thing to do.

Why do you feel health and well-being is important in hospitality?

Working in bars and restaurants is very rewarding. It is also hard physical work which has

traditionally been associated with unsociable hours and less-than-ideal working conditions.

If we can support people with healthy hours and a healthy environment, hospitality jobs could be some of the best for well-being!

This year has been particularly turbulent for our industry. In what ways has this affected your business and the well-fare of your staff?

Turbulent is an understatement! Dealing with the extreme uncertainty and the constant change and upheavals of the past 18 months has been a challenge for running a business for everyone who works in it.

Banner reads: "Providing support for our employees has been our number one focus since the pandemic started." - written by Madeleine Greach from Hawksmoor

In what ways have you remedied some of the above issues?

Providing support for our employees has been our number one focus since the pandemic started.

1. Communicating Clearly

We started by keeping a small team on throughout the lockdowns to make sure people had clear communication on what was happening and what help was available to them.

Will Beckett, who set Hawksmoor did a weekly video update every Friday that was broadcast across the company on our comms platform.

2. Listening To Our Staff’s Needs

As we reopened, we ran listening surveys to find out what people wanted as they came back to work. People mainly wanted security and flexibility. So, we’ve introduced the opportunity to apply for flexible working from day one and new contracts that give 40 hour a week security whilst also having over-time for any hours worked above, giving more choice. It’s practical things like this that really make a difference to well-being.

"We introduced a welfare budget for each of our restaurants to use, as they want, to support staff.   It’s been used to update staff areas creating chill-out spaces and to buy in healthy drinks and snacks. We have also carried on running regular wellbeing workshops for all our employees."

3. Starting A Welfare Budget

We also introduced a welfare budget for each of our restaurants to use, as they want, to support staff. So far, it’s been used to update staff areas creating chill out spaces and to buy in healthy drinks and snacks. We have also carried on running regular well-being workshops for all our employees.

 

How have your team responded to the support you’ve provided? And have you noticed a difference in their well-being?

Feedback from people so far has been really positive. Our employees rated our communications over Covid as 4.8 out of 5. Appreciative for our consistent communication, compassion and reassurance. We also received our highest ever score for well-being in our 10th Best Companies engagement survey.

Have you noticed any difference in performance at work, customer service, return customers, or even business profitability since providing this support?

Since we’ve reopened there have been challenges (such as recruitment) but we have continued to put people at the heart of decision making. A vote run by the Evening Standard named Hawksmoor as “the restaurant most people wanted to go back to” after the pandemic, business has been good and we continue to get lots of very positive feedback from our customers. As the saying goes if you support your employees, they can take good care of customers and the business will take care of itself.

Do you have any future plans to further develop Hawksmoor's positive work?

Text reads:"We are really focusing on diversity and inclusion to make sure Hawksmoor is somewhere everyone can be happy at work regardless of their race, class, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other factor."

We are really focusing on diversity and inclusion (from training, to policies, to monitoring, to setting up a D&I committee) to make sure Hawksmoor is somewhere everyone can be happy at work regardless of their race, class, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other factor.

Text reads: "Clear, honest, transparent communication creates safety, which is so important for people’s wellbeing."

What's your top tips for business wanting to look after their staff?

Listen to what people want and need; treat people fairly and as individuals

Look at the big picture – there is no point running free yoga classes, or sharing well-being tips, if people are burnout by working long hours. Make sure you monitor these hours.

Clear, honest, transparent communication creates safety, which is so important for people’s wellbeing.

As a business, do you have a pledge to continue supporting the health and well-fare of your staff?

We promise every single person from day one:

  • a good boss
  • fair treatment
  • personal and professional development
  • support
  • somewhere they can feel proud to work

We offer a lot of extras but getting the basics right and treating people well is the key to well-being.

We pledge to continue supporting the people who work at Hawksmoor, offering jobs and careers that rival those in any industry, and continuing to find ways to do this better.

We’re very proud to have worked so closely with The Hawksmoor Group who are leading the way to a brighter hospitality. People

Their collective effort to ensure team members are treated fairly, that there is a sustained focus on staff mental and physical health, room for professional and personal development, and all-the-while holding strong communication and listening capabilities, gives us so much hope for the future health of our industry. Lead the way Hawksmoor!