Recognising the Hard Work in Hospitality

Recognising the Hard Work in Hospitality

The three years I worked in coffee shops before opening Copper + Straw were invaluable. They gave me an insight into the nuts and bolts of running a coffee shop and a greater appreciation of what's involved. There's no two ways about this; working in hospitality is hard.

The rose tinted glasses come off when you're working behind the bar. There’s a lot more to the job than playing around with fancy equipment or pouring ten layered tulips. Early starts, long hours, taking deliveries, standing all day, running orders to tables, making coffee after coffee to exacting standards, and not to mention all the smiling; feeling over-worked and under-appreciated isn’t uncommon. I've always felt that it's important to acknowledge how demanding the role can be and make adjustments, however big or small, to make the role easier and more enjoyable. The culture should recognise that those who run your business are PEOPLE with their own lives.

You get what you give. A staff member is more likely to show flexibility - hopping up from their break when it’s busy, or coming in at short notice when short staffed - if you're flexible with them.

No one wants to hear that you respect them. They want to feel respected. Gestures, the little things - getting the roster out early so staff can plan their time off, facilitating shift requests, giving two days off in a row, paying for breaks, free lunches, decent discounts - go a long way.

Say thank you. Acknowledge when something is done well. Seek feedback to understand what is working and what needs improvement. Explain when something hasn’t been done right and move on - understand when it’s a support and training issue. Give staff the tools they need. Fix things quickly - plumbing, WiFi, drains - that add unnecessary pressure and stress. And whether it’s training, guidelines, or checklists; have a process for everything.

Mary Portas often talks about process over outcome. If the people doing the work are happy and feel valued, if they feel like true collaborators, they will care about the business you’re trying to grow and go out of their way to make it successful. And at the end of the day, THAT makes for a happy customer.