Full disclaimer – my two new least favourite terms of expression are ‘pingdemic’ and ‘freedom day’. There’ll be none of that talk here. One issue affecting restaurant businesses that I would like to continue to shine a light on, however, is staffing.
Though it’s obviously a frustrating time for operators trying to fill vacancies and avoid self-isolation-induced closure, I wholeheartedly believe we’re entering a transformational period for hospitality. And I’m in no way implying that meaningful change is a simple process. Hospitality as a career must be rewired from the very core if it is to shed any preconceptions of undesirable working conditions.
From D&D London to Simon Rogan and Accor Hotels, there are some incredible efforts being made by key players to encourage young people to enter the industry, to train them properly and expose them to the many benefits within their reach if they progress through various roles at different venues.
The amount people earn remains paramount to retaining and attracting team members. But is this spoken about enough? When I was talking with Dominic Jones, CEO of JPRestaurants in Jersey, for our lead interview in this issue, he asked a question that’s stayed with me:
“Why doesn’t the public challenge hospitality businesses on how much they pay their staff?”
To put this into context, Jones’ 10-venue strong business has become an accredited real Living Wage employer (different to government-set rates), and has adjusted menu prices to accommodate the increase, while doing away with tips altogether. JPRestaurants’ teams receive more reliable, consistent levels of income as a result.
Businesses are scrutinised on sustainable practices, workplace bullying, their approach to creating diverse and inclusive spaces and more – but what about the specifics of all employees’ pay-packets? Since Jones adopted the real Living Wage, rather than relying on tips to boost take-home pay, he’s noticed an improvement in staff retention and wellbeing in general. You can read his interview in full on page 20.
Does rethinking the very model of hospitality pay hold the key to further invigorate the sector’s potential for lasting change? Perhaps. There’s no easy blueprint that can be applied to all business models, but Jones puts forward a very compelling case. At the very least, the conversation around pay can now begin properly.