TALES FROM THE TOP
HOW TO SOURCE AND KEEP STAFF DIRECTOR OF A LEADING HOSPITALITY RECRUITMENT FIRM, AMBER KING TELLS CRAIG HAWTIN-BUTCHER HOW THE PUB SECTOR CAN RECRUIT, RETAIN AND CULTIVATE THEIR STAFF.
mber King is director of BrightSide Executive Search, the only drinks specialist recruitment agency in Australia. In her own words, Amber explains the challenges and opportunities available to the industry: We predominantly work within sales and marketing to general management across beer, wine, spirits suppliers, all liquor distributors, pub groups and liquor retailers. We find at the venue level the main issue is the transient nature of the employees. At the head office level or the supplier level, candidates tend to look at it more as a long term career path. Publicans should accept some level of unavoidable, cyclical staff loss. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the industry, just as venues need to gear up for peak periods. In terms of building a culture and keeping staff, we believe the same rules apply to venues as they do to any employer. Underpinning staff contribution to the business as valued, giving them a voice, ensuring they feel as though they are part of the team and not just a number. However, the most common feedback we receive now from candidates is not monetary based, it’s around flexibility, which can mean different things to many people. However, generally it means balance and fairness with time, e.g. if employees need to work longer hours through a busy period then the employer gives a day in lieu. From what we see and hear, groups need to invest in HR, testing, training and development. Also if they invest in their recruitment partner or process it will ensure they are bringing the right people in to the business on a more consistent basis. Three elements are key to retaining staff: 1. Flexibility: People need time in lieu or time off to do other life things. We understand rosters are time consuming but if people feel they can have some flexibility when needed, they are more likely to stay.
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2. Training & Development: People need to feel supported and confident to do their job well. Once they are doing it well they enjoy it more, once they enjoy it they value it, once they value it they are more likely to stay. 3. Culture: It allows everyone to feel they are a part of a team and a broader family. Culture comes from the top and should always come first. Technology solutions are available to ease the burden. KAN-Do seems like a viable option to get staff trained, however on-the-job training is also very well regarded (not shadowing). There are regional differences in staff attitudes and the approaches that need to be taken. Because regional staffing is seasonal, you need to have a good backup of casuals or access to a good recruitment partner that can have that talent pool available for you. Also being creative can go a long way to attracting talent, e.g. free meals, subsidised or free accommodation, etc. For the ‘staff’ themselves they are more about ‘what’s in it for me?’ They not only want to feel valued, they want to feel secure if they are making the move for an entire season. The actual recruitment process, inductions and the contractual agreements are a lot more formal in supplier land vs on-premise. Everyone has a contract, defined KPIs, a bonus scheme is outlined or very clear incentives, which are all hugely important in setting people up to succeed, by ensuring everyone knows where they stand and what is expected of them. Robust recruitment processes will help with hiring the right staff, but we firmly believe culture plays a huge part when it comes to retention. It is no lie that culture comes from the top, management and owners need to remember this on a daily basis. Also businesses need to hold people accountable – one toxic hire can bring down a team if they are not managed correctly.
Amber King, director of BrightSide Executive Search
“The most common feedback we receive now from candidates is not monetary based, it’s around flexibility”