The hospitality work-life balance

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All work and no play, yeah yeah yeah. We all know about the old work-life balance debate.

I remember many years ago talking to a colleague about what he had done in the 12 months since we had last met. I listened in awe to his tales of his intrepid adventures, fine wines and exotic foods from around the world, then heard myself regale him with my thoughts on increasing the average room rate, RevPAR, TRevPAR, the bottom line and undertaking a full hotel refurbishment.

I gulped and realised I had very little else to talk about. What’s more, I was helping someone else live their dream. It was certainly not my dream and things had to change.

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I’m passionate about hospitality, I’ve worked in kitchens, hotels, restaurants, bars and bistros for over thirty years. I love it, I wouldn’t do anything else, but the demands on those of us working in the hospitality industry are great – long hours, meeting our guests’ increasingly high expectations, and of course overseeing and managing operations, often at breakneck speed. It can be almost impossible to arrange a team meeting, never mind catch your breath. But this dedication and commitment to what we do inevitably takes its toll, and it’s imperative that we all manage our work-life better to avoid stress, resentment, or even burn out.

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Fortunately, flexible working and work-life balance incentives and policies are starting to become the norm in companies, and increasingly sought after by employees. This being said there are still so many in the hospitality and catering industry who are less than satisfied. A recent survey stated that 25 percent of hospitality employees are unsatisfied with their personal work-life balance, and the attitude of “I was made to do it” is still very much prevalent.

A company with competitive edge over their competition is often accredited with seriously looking after their employees. This indicates that we need change to seriously change our mindset to make this work for us. So the question now is: what can hospitality operators do to ensure there is a balance and certainly not an imbalance?

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  • Listen to your people to find out and get a proper understanding of the situation within your business. By using engagement surveys with the team, establish what people are actually thinking and feeling within the workplace. This also lets us see who is engaged and who is disengaged. Therefore is a poor work-life balance causing issues? Maybe your staff don’t have problems with work-life balance. Lucky you!
  • Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise! It may sound counter-intuitive, but do the most important tasks before the most urgent ones. Understand what really matters. Achieve the right balance of working IN the business and working ON the business. Time is your most valuable commodity – it’s the one thing you can’t buy more of, so, don’t waste it.
  • Be clear, honest and open. Let your staff know if you need to leave at 5pm on the dot for a family celebration, or pop out at 2pm to see your child in their school play. Specify that you won’t be available after a certain time. Your team then know where they stand, and will feel more comfortable about doing this themselves. This leads to a more positive culture, increased morale and lower staff turnover. But always remember – flexibility is a two-way street.
  • Pace yourself. If you’re most alert first thing, this would be the best time to write reports. If you feel sluggish in the mid-afternoon, then grab a cuppa and do a walk-around , chat t0 staff and customers. Be realistic about what you’re able to achieve – no-one can operate at full throttle all day long.
  • Embrace technology, but don’t let it control you. Ensure that technology makes your life easier without becoming time consuming. Don’t be a slave to it. Put on the silent button when you need to focus on important tasks, staff, family and friends.

Right. Blog written. That’s me off for a cycle then home for dinner with the family.

Victus Consultancy is passionate about all aspects of the catering and hospitality industry. Contact us if you’d like an industry expert to help you achieve a better work-life balance for you and your team.