Hospitality - do we need staff training anyway?

Lynda Greeves
Food service

At a time where it feels like the hospitality industry is fighting a war on all fronts, is this the best time to invest valuable time and resource in revamping your employee training programme? And what do you need to implement it successfully?

At a time where it feels like the hospitality industry is fighting a war on all fronts, is this the best time to take valuable time and resource to assess the need for an employee training programme?

As one of the largest employers across the globe, hospitality is also a sector recognised for having an exceptionally high rate of staff turnover. In good times, this is one of the many operational challenges. In times of economic pressure and a growing battle for share of a diminishing consumer spend, however, this becomes a serious point of vulnerability. Currently, hospitality workers are quitting their jobs at the highest rate. At the same time, the sector is struggling to attract a new generation of workers. And the reasons are vast, ranging from seasonality to low rates of pay, unsociable hours, to low staff morale and a perceived lack of career opportunities.

Earlier this year (May 2022), Zupa independently surveyed hundreds of contract catering businesses across the UK and found that 40% believe that lack of training and resource is to blame for low morale amongst their teams. A further 20% admitted they are frustrated by unnecessary complexity and outdated technology, which they say is making these problems worse (further reading). In our latest, soon-to-be published, research into the UK restaurant sector, 97% of respondents stated they have a challenge with staff churn. And the top reason cited for this? Unsufficient staff training.

So what can companies do?

Staff turnover and poor training create a vicious cycle, directly impacting revenue and profitability. It is vital, therefore, that companies consider training as a key component of a wider people strategy.

It is becoming increasingly clear that training is not just critical to operational growth; it is paramount to business survival. At Propel’s recent multi-club event in London, live insights from companies including Turtle Bay, with its ‘One Love Culture’ that has training at its core, to Mission Mars (home of Albert Schloss and Rudy’s Pizza Napolitana) who emphasises the key role its training plays – including in-house conferences - through to coffee shop chain Bob&Bert’s who attribute much of their growth success to their strong culture and internal comms, all demonstrate clearly the link between their business success and the value they place on their employees.

However, with the industry battling fewer resources, higher costs and tighter margins, finding the time and budget to invest in training programmes can prove challenging. Nevertheless, without making time to establish and deliver the right training, not only do employers run the risk of finding themselves with an unhappy workforce lacking in innovation and creativity, but they also put at risk customer relationships and, in turn, their revenues.

According to a recent survey commissioned in November 2022 by Umbrella Training, 25% of young people who have chosen to work in hospitality said they felt strongly about working in a job in which teamwork is important, and where there were opportunities to learn and progress more quickly.

If the sector is to attract new talent in the future, not only does it need to provide a variety of career options, but it also needs to demonstrate greater access to training and personal development to broaden appeal for young people. With that in mind, freeing up employee time is becoming more important than ever right now.

So what steps are needed to free up time to train?

Recognition that the right technology can help to reduce pressure on over-stretched and short-staffed teams, giving them more hours back in their day, is a good place to start. Adopting quick-to-implement and easy-to-use technology, like Zupa’s catering management platform Caternet, can help staff to streamline processes, focus more on their core roles, reduce admin-intensive manual tasks, thereby having a direct impact on employees' day-to-day happiness.

When an employee feels confident and happy in their job, has the opportunity for career development and more time in their day to do what they do best, they will operate more productively and efficiently. And the customer will have a much-improved experience. Embedding a robust IT strategy and selecting the best technology that aligns to customer experience and success, therefore, is critical to creating positive change in the hospitality sector.

A survey conducted by HIT Training last month (October 2022), found that 80% of employees in the hospitality and catering sector believe there’s less emphasis on training as they progress through their careers.

In a world where innovation as well as staff retention is vital for the industry’s survival, isn’t it time we ensure employees are given the best environment to thrive and have more time for training?