Australia’s got (hospo) talent
Recruiting and retaining great hospo staff
Both a Chef and the Managing Director and Owner of JRM Hospitality & Recruitment, James says the dramatic reduction of staff during COVID led to rapid promotions,
with kitchen hands becoming chefs and chef parties taking on sous chef roles, and universal rises in pay.
Whilst there has been an increase in staff from overseas, there is still a skills shortage.
‘I'm a chef by trade, so I always did 60 or 70 hours. That was the norm at hatted restaurants, but even in those places now they are having four-day weeks and everybody's getting paid a lot better. That was because of COVID, and it did need to happen in the industry because a lot of people were getting flogged,’ James says.
It’s now uncommon for people to work more than 42 hours a week unless they are being paid overtime.‘If you're on $200,000, for instance, then people don't mind putting in the hours but for the average working chef, the conditions are a lot better and it's a lot fairer.’
In addition to the four-day week, venues seeking to be employers of choice are now including benefits such as
free uniforms, venue discounts for family and friends, and mental health days and support.
Potential staff are also looking for
transparency around the division of tips, a professional induction, and a career pathway.
‘There are a few companies that we work with that, when somebody starts, they have a clear, achievable and transparent career path with a timeline, so they know where they're heading and have got something to work towards. There's a lot of value in that. Small operators would struggle to be able to do that, but when medium to big companies do that well, it keeps people engaged and feeling valued.’
‘I’m part-owner of a restaurant in Cronulla, only about 25 kilometres from the Sydney CBD, but there's just no staff in Cronulla so we've got to tap people from in and around the area, otherwise it's an hour commute each way and people just don't last. There are no one-bedroom apartments to rent in Cronulla, or they're $800 or $900 and people just can't afford it,’ James says.
If it’s an option, providing accommodation as part of an employee’s salary package can be a gamechanger.
James plugs the value of using a recruitment firm to find casuals over the holiday period.
‘The casual staffing market is challenging for venues because there is a lot of work in December and not enough staff and in January time there's not enough hours to go around and everybody is desperate for work.
‘We can help businesses when the demand is there. They can employ somebody casually just for a certain period or event and then they don't have
the dreaded bloated payroll come January with too many people on their books.
We like to plug gaps.’