A panel session at CGA’s recent Peach 2020 conference shared ideas for recruiting, motivating and retaining the best talent in the industry. Here’s what three people-focused leaders had to say about rising to one of hospitality’s biggest challenges.

6 December, 2019

Power to the people: Three approaches to inspiring teams

‘Good communication is key’— Kavi Thakrar, Head Babu, Dishoom.

We’ve got seven sites and around 950 people now, and happy teams are an enormous focus for our business. We want to offer a business and culture in which people can thrive and develop and be part of something that makes a difference to people’s lives.

We have a very good retention rate and low staff turnover, and high engagement scores. Metrics like that help us, but what we really focus on is how to make things awesome for the team. We want to keep Dishoom relevant to people as they grow, and show them it’s a great place to build a career. We’re creative around the benefits we offer, like providing first aid training and equipping managers to help staff with mental health problems. We do fun things like trips to Bombay for anyone who has been with us for five years; when we launched that we thought we’d be taking one or two people out there, but next year we’ll be taking 35!

Good communication is key. We use email and WhatsApp, but we also have an internal Facebook page and use physical mail when it’s appropriate. It’s about the right communications through the right means.

‘Find people who align with your values’—Chris Hill, CEO, New World Trading Company

We’ve just opened our 27th site and have 1,700 people with us now. We operate from Bath to Newcastle and the geography is our biggest challenge, because we have to articulate our values everywhere we go. We started in the north west and know that area really well, but are moving into areas where people won’t know much about us. We have to spot very quickly if potential managers and team members are going to share our values. Once the opening team has moved out, you’ve got to be sure that people there are thinking and saying the right things for your brand.

The ethos is simple: to find and develop like-minded people who share our values of expertise, exploration, individuality, integrity, ambition and happiness. They mean nothing if you just stick them down in a welcome booklet, but we recruit and appraise against those values, and ultimately if someone has to leave it’s because they’re not working to them. You’ve got to find people who have a subconscious alignment to your values—otherwise they’ll be pulling in another direction to you. And you’ve got stay sensitive to when people are going that way. The more early warning systems you can create, and the quicker you get under the skin of the problems, the better.”

‘Make people part of the story’—James Brown, Retail Director, BrewDog

BrewDog should get to 100 sites this year—it’s been lot of hard work over the years, and our people have been right at the heart of it. It boils down to making people feel start of the story. We hire on passion: we’re a mission-driven business so you can’t join us and not get passionate about beer. We want to make others as passionate as we are, and make people’s first experience of drinking craft beer as effortless as possible.

On remuneration, our baseline is that we’re a Living Wage employer; it’s the fair thing to do. We also share 10% of profits with our teams, and two things happened when we first did so: our profits went up, and our relationship with employees changed overnight so they became fully participating members of the team. It’s completely changed the way we think and engage people.

Many staff have shares in the business too, as part of our ‘Equity Punks’ scheme, which gives them another incentive to perform, or to point out if something’s going wrong. It makes for really close-knit connections between our communities, our customers and our employees.

CGA’s Peach 2020 Conference was supported by platinum partners Asahi, Bookatable by Michelin, Caterer.com, Coca-Cola European Partners, Coffer Corporate Leisure, CPL Online, Diageo, Fourth, Groupon, Omnivore and Zonal. Network partners were Casual Dining, Chapman Ventilation, Fishbowl, Freeths, Garden Gourmet, Majestic Commercial, Reynolds, RSM, Shield Safety Group, and Yumpingo.

     

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