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Let’s not hide behind the perceived glamour, hospitality is a margin challenged industry; debt, rent, cost of goods, wage increases, and talent shortages – it’s a daily battle.

The sheer number of cafés and restaurants exhausts the pool of people available for an industry that is physically and socially demanding.

And, you need a team to understand the daily battle for profit – you need them to care.

You’ve been told a hundred times that ‘culture’ provides the competitive advantage in such a challenging industry. SO many articles to read on the subject, with a great deal of common sense repeated sometimes ad nauseum … and yet work-place culture remains a huge problem in our industry and to significant financial cost.

What are we doing wrong? suggests that perhaps we over think it – and do too little.

A great deal of culture-shaping is done at a recruitment level. You need the right people, the sort that are going to run with the culture and values you promote and personify.

Be very clear on the type of personal characteristics you hire and value – then spend just as much time marketing those values on social media as you do product – in fact more. 

The A4 sheet in the window asking for ‘extroverts’ is a nonsense: you don’t want extroverts, you want all personality types who are genuinely thoughtful of others and work well collaboratively. Employing a chef who values looking after his team first – is gold, pure gold. Employing a more experienced chef who only cares about himself is a kick in the pocket.

How much time and money has toxic behaviour cost you?

  • Every time you’ve lost a good employee because the toxic behaviour of another has been left unchecked.
  • Every time a team member plays the victim, avoids personal responsibility, and creates a negative subculture.
  • Every time you’ve tolerated customers who have harassed or behaved unacceptably rudely towards your team.
  • Every time your time is used to untangle the consequences of toxic behaviour.

Most recruitment companies calculate that a toxic hire costs THREE – FOUR times as much as a good one. That’s a lot of dosh in a margin challenged industry.

Sell your employee experience well – place all those fabulous profiles, reports and short visual blogs in all the places great young people read. Sell all the great community projects in which your team are involved; sell all their new exciting learning about business – watch your training costs cancel themselves out.

Ensure that talent is always looking and reading about your fantastic team, and their growth, their learning and increased business understanding.

Praise and recognise your team publicly.

Take the desired characteristics of your team seriously and describe the wonderful employee experience in your business – then sell those experiences on social media constantly.

By selling the employee experience you’re communicating that your team comes first, you value good behaviour and that you understand that business is about nourishing people.

Common sense?

But where is it being done?

When you do find it – I bet that’s a business with a healthy increasing profit margin.


31.7.18 – James O’Connell @ The Hospitality Company