Remember Black Friday? Well, now it’s time to get ready for Blue Monday – a date that is apparently the most depressing day of the year!
Falling on the third Monday in January (21st this year), the combination of the cold, dark days ahead, along with a general feeling of being cash-strapped is enough to send most of us into a bit of a slump.
For those working in hospitality, the transition from those bright lights and the hectic pace experienced over the Christmas/New Year period into the lull of January can be especially noticeable, leading to an even greater dip in everyone’s mood.
But, even if fewer people than usual are frequenting your establishment this January, remember that those who do come are still looking for a pleasant experience and will not be impressed by glum faces. Staff morale and motivation is a crucial component in creating positive customer experiences so, this January, make it a focus of your business. Here are a few ideas:
Get your managers on board
Depending on the size of your business, you might have any number of staff with supervisory responsibilities (bar manager, head chef, restaurant manager etc). The people working in these different areas will no doubt have different motivations but what’s really important is that those in charge understand the overarching goal of your business and work with their teams to achieve it. To raise morale across the board, start with the management team – making sure they are in agreement on the actions required and are confident enough to communicate key messages to their subordinates.
Issues caused by bad staff scheduling – understaffed panics, overstaffed boredom, long shifts and unpredictable hours – can all have a real impact on stress and morale.
According to the YouGov and software company Deputy’s Retaining Britain’s Hospitality Workers report, high numbers of employees leave the sector because of reasons related to hours and scheduling. 69% of leavers mentioned unsociable hours, 52% wanted a more stable income and guaranteed hours and 32% said they were looking for more transparency from employers regarding shifts and scheduling.
Optimising staff schedules in ways that suit everyone is always going to be a challenge but there are things you can do. The reporting features that come with most smart POS systems (sales per hour for instance) can provide insights into daily peaks and lows. This, in turn, enables you to create schedules that closely match the requirements of your business, stabilise shift patterns and communicate them to staff well in advance.
Food, glorious food
For businesses that involve food-service, providing employees with a free meal as part of their package is a good motivating factor. Besides this, it also helps to reduce waste, gives people the fuel they need to excel throughout their shift and provides staff with a better understanding of what they’re selling or serving. If a free meal at every shift isn’t viable, you might consider running regular sampling sessions for staff instead.
(GOODTILL TIP: Set up a staff meal area on your POS system so that everything is properly logged and monitored and so the inventory can be accounted for.)
Invest for progress
A simple way to boost morale among staff is to offer meaningful training and career progression pathways. Learning new things gives people a greater sense of purpose, motivation and interest in their work. Remember that by paying for bartenders, chefs or hosts to improve their skill set, they will do better at their job and your business will reap the benefits.
Recognise and reward
Probably the most obvious method of boosting morale is to recognise and reward staff for the work they do or attitude they display.
While that could mean implementing a bonus system that comes into play when profits are up or providing top-notch benefits like access to gyms or private healthcare, sometimes it’s the little things which make a difference.
Recognise star performers in team meetings, through an Employee of the Month scheme or via a shout-out on social media. Create an even greater incentive with some prizes that people will want to work towards – a parking space, a paid day off or even the traditional plaque on the wall.
(GOODTILL TIP: Use your POS to monitor staff performance – checking on timekeeping and data such as sales-per-hour or average transaction values during their shifts to identify your top performers. As well as providing personal rewards, give them the kudos of using their examples of best practice to train other staff.)
Think about longevity
Employee turnover in the hospitality sector now stands at 30%. That’s double the UK average and many believe this will only get worse after Brexit. (YouGov/Deputy)
With unsociable hours, low pay and benefits and lack of career prospects being high on the list of reasons for leaving, perhaps it’s time to set some strategies that reward longevity. Make work anniversaries a time for celebration and implement steps that people can climb to achieve a wage increase or promotion.
Update the look
Most hospitality businesses apply some kind of uniform or dress code, but let’s be honest, they’re usually designed with functionality (rather than fashion) in mind!
Looking and feeling smart can be another morale boost for staff (as well as for your business image) so, if your uniform policy is somewhat outdated, use a bit of that January downtime to come up with a fresh look. Ask staff for their views and, wherever possible, provide people with a few options for individuality (e.g. two or three styles of shirt, trousers or skirts so people can select what fits their body shape best).
Time to change that January attitude!
Unless you’re running a gym, health spa or travel operation on the side, it’s unlikely you’ve greeted January with glee but there’s really no need for this month to be as depressing as the ‘Blue Monday’ name would suggest.
In fact, a slow-down can partly be welcomed as an opportunity to re-focus on staff – setting strategies for training and raising morale in ways that will undoubtedly boost your business throughout the year ahead.
Pick and choose from the ideas above or let us know yours on Twitter @TheGoodTillco