As we know, hospitality falls behind other sectors in terms of staff retention but finding and keeping great people in fish and chips is probably even harder.
For a while, I wanted to put together some tips on helping you find and keep great staff, and I think, for the most part, we have to start with communication.
We have to be honest, and there are a few things that make it harder to employ in the fish and chip industry: unattractive hours, lower salaries than other parts of hospitality, harder work than stacking shelves, in some cases a lack of progression as you are not a large company with an extensive management structure.
Here are some things to consider when looking to hire staff.
No matter how big or small your business is, it’s imperative to keep matters of employment formal. Ask potential candidates to supply a CV, either in person or to a dedicated e-mail address. To set up an interview, contact the candidate by phone or e-mail, do not use text, Messenger or What’sApp. We all know this is how today’s youngsters stay in touch, and this may well be how you wish to communicate with your current staff about social gatherings, shift swaps etc, but when it comes to employment it’s too informal.
It’s worth noting you should start as you mean to go on. A staff member might not think twice of texting you to say you they are off sick if you employed them by text. Let them know there is a procedure to follow for work-related issues.
You may recognise that you need staff, but what do you need them to do? If you just put a sign up in the window saying staff wanted, this may confuse potential applicants. You must outline precisely what you’re looking for before starting the staffing process. If it’s a server, kitchen porter, fish cutter or chef, what level do you require?
Defining the exact requirements of the job before starting your search will allow you to find – and keep – talent. If a potential employee asks what the role is and you don’t know then they will probably not be interested. If the position is wide-ranging, that’s okay, as long as it is communicated to them.
A job advert is often the initial interaction the applicant will have with your business, so you must include all the right elements to sell the position.
Be precise, covering all responsibilities and expectations to ensure there’s no confusion about the job. It’s also worth including information about the company, the team they’ll be joining and the benefits you offer. You need to be very clear about the salary and hours. If there is potential for movement, communicate this from the outset so candidates are prepared for this possibility. For example, if there’s an opportunity for a pay rise within six months or a chance that hours may vary at a particular time of the year, express it in the job advert.
Althought you will be interviewing the candidate, if they see someone at work who isn’t happy, they probably won’t feel inspired to work with you. The first way to inspire a potential candidate (even if you are not employing at the time) is to make sure everyone is happy at work.
When writing out your advert or thinking of the position you want to fill, it’s imperative to be specific about the skills, experience, and personality fit you are looking for.
While it might be tempting to cast a wide net, interviewing candidates that don’t fit your brief, or who are looking for something different to what you need, isn’t going to work. On top of that, it is a waste of your valuable working time.
Beware of narrowing your search on experience, look for skills such as customer service, flexibility, emotional intelligence and an ability to work under pressure. If someone shows these traits, it might be worth considering training on the job.
Many fish and chip shops are a small business; there is nothing wrong with this. But this may create some potential issues if a candidate or employee wants to progress in the business. They can’t get promotions past manager, let’s say, as that would overtake your role unless you have expansion plans to grow the business or you want to take a step off the gas and let someone else run the show.
To hold onto your top people, you must create, and then communicate, the potential pathways within your business. For example, if a candidate joins you in as a server, ensure they understand the abilities they need to demonstrate to become a frier or manager.
Offer training opportunities and foster a culture of learning. After all, if your employees are looking to progress, providing every chance for them to do so will mean they stick around.
It is fair to say that even if people can’t move up, you can all work as a team and work together as a horizontal organisation.
Some of the best ways to learn how to attract new staff is to liaise regularly with your current team.
Are you looking after their wellbeing with a reasonable time between shifts? Are your salaries consistent with the market? Are you offering the right level of benefits? Are you providing opportunities for feedback and development?
Talking to your team members and reviewing and, if necessary, adjusting your employee value proposition will help to strengthen both attraction and retention, refining your odds of long-term hires.
I know it’s hard to get great people in your business; it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. But if you can try and narrow down your search and be honest, you might even attract people that might surprise themselves and want to work in your business.
Usually, the talk of wages is taboo so I would display the package you are offering on the advert. Then, applicants know exactly what they are walking into, there is really no point in having an interview and then the potential employee not being happy with the remuneration on offer.
When employing people you have to consider supply and demand. If your location has low unemployment then you will probably pay more to attract potential employees, if you have high unemployment, then you might be okay to advertise at the living wage. One thing worth noting is that sometimes paying more costs less, especially if it brings in a better calibre of person and for existing employees, it means they don’t leave for another job, and you have to advertise, recruit and retrain.