6 Tips to address the staffing crisis

The Pandemic has caused the hospitality industry to relook at how restaurants are structured, and how we recruit, retain and treat our staff.

Whilst there have been many obstacles faced, there has also been great progress made for staff welfare, as well as exciting initiatives that have shown us that there is a wide pool of talent if we expand our horizons.

These 6 chefs and experts shared their insight and experiences in initiatives for change.

1. Invest in local colleges to find new talent

“​​If you work hand in hand with a college, it can be the source of fantastic staff for years, as long as you remember that they are students first.

As most companies know, recruiting staff has been a problem for years. One of the biggest success stories I have when running multiple venues, was to “grow my own” staff. I was executive chef of a large hospitality company who had a large number of different styles of venues, from hotels, fine dining and casual dining.

I set myself a challenge to recruit young school leavers. I set up a ‘get into hospitality’ type of program. I worked with schools and careers advice centres to find nice people.”

Gary Maclean ,
Executive Chef of City of Glasgow College



2. We can look outside our usual pool for great candidates

“Because this opportunity is so rare, to be given a fair shot, they want it so much more, they’re so much more motivated, they will try 1000 times more, and they are just happy to help in any way. They really understand the importance of learning and helping out with a future and finally getting paid. Its giving a fair shot to someone who really deserves it”

Bianca Travella,
Founder and Ceo Fair Shot Cafe


3. By addressing language barriers, we reduce conflict and increase communication

“Effective communication has a few layers, I would say the most basic is the language.

A lot of kitchens, especially in the US and the metropolitan areas speak different languages. For most part it’s English and Spanish but it can be a wide range. The first thing to understand is that it’s the companies responsibility to gap that barrier. What we did was implement both English lessons for Spanish speaking staff, but also Spanish lessons for the English speaking front of house staff. The first barrier you want to break is the language barrier.”

Oron Franco,
Chef and entrepreneur


4. When we empower our team to manage stress, we are more productive.

“Research suggests that greater sense of wellbeing is also associated with greater productivity in the workplace and even greater increases in productivity over time. So what this tells us is by taking time to promote a sense of wellbeing we're actually using it as a means to have better health and as well as even better productivity. So it's not something that is detracting from our ability to perform in the workplace, it's actually helping us to support the maximum performance that we can have.”

Dr Jen Sumner,
Clinical Psychologist & Associate Professor, UCLA


5. Staff are more likely to stay, if they feel valued and supported.

"Understanding of how employees feel about the way they are managed is very powerful while also helping employees to feel valued.”

Open communication through all levels and an approachable leadership style, can help to create a supportive environment in a busy kitchen. Give your team the support they need - for new team members, provide them with a Buddy Up or a Coach through the initial weeks and months until they gain confidence, as well as create an internal training programme to progress through the ranks.”

Marc Mattocks
Senior Account Manager, Entegra


6. We can make adjustments to help our staff function at their best. 

“Making sure you're staffed enough for what you're trying to deliver, there's no point in stretching people to the absolute max because they're going to just burn out. You need people - and I know it's very difficult at the minute and if you can't I think you need to look at reducing the size of your menu or just making things simpler.

Since we came back from lockdown, we've made our menu only a tasting menu so we have eight dishes. It's really allowed the guys to be able to focus and really refine what we're doing - without stretching them too much to do the prep for a huge a la carte menu.”

Ruth Hanson,
Head Chef at Princess of Shoreditch


Despite the challenges faced by the industry, there are resources on hand to be able to empower and encourage our teams, as well as to find new and exciting avenues for talent.

By being mindful of the demands placed upon staff members, we can create structures and systems that offer support and ensure a happy and sustainable working-relationship with our teams.

If you would like to learn more on how to lead your kitchen and support your staff, sign up to our free online leadership programme today.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn as we explore more about how we can create and sustain #Fairkitchens.