When you’re a manager in the hospitality industry, peak season means two things – increased customer demand and higher stress levels for staff.
OK, so the second one isn’t a given, but it is unfortunately usually the norm. You can guarantee that just as soon as the restaurant starts to fill up, a demanding party of 10 will walk in. Your best waitress gets caught up accommodating them while the chef starts to receive off-menu requests.
It can be difficult navigating your workplace and keeping your staff motivated and engaged during the festive period – difficult, but not impossible.
In this guide, I will share five of the best strategies to manage your hospitality team effectively through the Christmas period.
First things first – if you haven’t started planning your Christmas rota, now is the time to start. Inevitably there will be team members who can’t work certain days but can pick up extra shifts elsewhere.
You should have all of your staff availability close at hand, in the diary or somewhere you can easily refer to it when two new starters turn up to do the same shift.
This is the time of year when you will need to have a plan B at the back of your mind for staff cover. Do you have reliable stand-ins for your regular team? If you need help recruiting extra staff for the Christmas period, we can help you with that.
It’s more important than ever during the Christmas period to check with your team that they’re up to date with their training and they’ve got their head in the game.
Check-in with your staff throughout their shifts as much as you can, encourage them to talk about any issues they have or even if they just want to vent about something – spotting signs that your team are unhappy early can avoid disasters from happening further down the line.
An employee who has started showing up late and appears disengaged is a worry at any time of the year, but it can have even more severe repercussions for the rest of the team if they start missing shifts during the busiest times. No-one wants to turn up to work and discover they have to cover two people’s tasks for their whole shift because you couldn’t find cover at the last minute.
Create an open and honest environment in your organisation; your team will feel much more engaged, happy and ready for the challenges that peak will bring when they know you’re 100% behind them.
Easier said than done, I know; but it’s something that many hospitality managers and staff alike fail to remember when things get hectic.
Ensure than all of your staff are adequately trained to deal with customer complaints, and that your team feel comfortable calling you if they need any assistance with a problematic customer or if they get overwhelmed with the task they are doing – it’s what you’re there for.
If someone is going to smash a bottle of your second most expensive wine, it will undoubtedly be during peak season – but remember that every problem is fixable when you have a clear head and a positive attitude.
Even the friendliest of hospitality teams can start to crack under the December pressure, so it is more important than ever to keep their spirits up.
Let kitchen staff play their own music (as long as it doesn’t interfere with restaurant music), organise a Secret Santa exchange, bring in festive treats for your team to keep them going through long shifts – no-one can resist a box of Christmas chocolates!
Remember – January is Just Around the Corner
If all else fails, and your head chef comes down with the flu in Christmas week, or your new starter on the bar doesn’t turn up for their first shift – remind your staff that peak season often flies by just as quick as it came.
When your team are called on to pull out all the stops and keep going until the last turkey dinner is served, keep them inspired by reminding them that they can enjoy a well-needed break from the chaos in January, as this period is historically the quietest in the year – and it comes at the most welcome time too!
Holiday vetos that are usually in place for December are lifted, your staff can get some well-deserved rest and take a couple of days off.
A hospitality team that makes it through peak together is a sign of a strong team – remember to thank your staff for their hard work and maybe even treat them to a night out, or that Christmas party that you couldn’t fit in in December!
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