The clock is ticking, Article 50 has been triggered and, like it or not, Britain will leave the EU. While it's difficult to guess what the true impact on the hospitality sector will be, it is vital that we value and invest in the people who make this sector so great.
Sourcing talent is an ongoing challenge, and the possibility of Brexit immigration curbs on European workers makes that challenge even greater. That is why it is so important to do everything we can to make it easy for women to return to the workplace after taking time out to raise a family, and to stop the talent drain of women from the sector.
As a working mother myself, juggling the demands of the business while raising two young daughters, I know first-hand what the challenges are. Returning to work after raising a family can be daunting and the hospitality sector is losing too many talented and experienced women due to inflexible working hours. Operators need to consider the benefits of more flexible working options, and, particularly, job sharing, which offers the possibility of having two individuals with different or complementary skill sets to fill a role.
The investment in a new member of staff isn't just financial; there's the emotional investment too, such as the hopes and expectations for and of that person and what the anticipated outcomes will be. Taking time out to have a family can undermine confidence, so anything to make an individual feel valued from the outset may have an impact on their decision to return to the workplace. Make mentoring and training a priority, as it can pay dividends in terms of retention. We see this day in, day out, in the restaurants, bars, hotels and workplace catering operations with whom we work. Having happy, motivated and valued teams means less external recruitment costs and less risk of future potential skills gaps.
Operators must be honest. The last thing any responsible employer wants is to lose a valued member of the team because they weren't aware of the pressures they were facing at home. Honesty has to start at the interview stage. Communicate clearly what the expectations of the role are from the outset and encourage candidates to be clear what the obstacles or challenges may be in fulfilling those expectations. Family commitments and childcare arrangements are ever-changing - as is a business - but we don't always feel comfortable talking about our personal circumstances.
By approaching a work/home life balance in a consultative way, hospitality operators and their staff reap the benefits. Ongoing dialogue will keep everyone informed about changes to personal circumstances and how they can be addressed to retain staff.