For an industry that requires its staff to always deliver service with a smile, the hospitality and catering scene is historically notorious for overlooking the importance of nurturing happiness at its source.
Although workplace happiness has become increasingly explored, debated and now practiced in creative, young and forward thinking businesses, the hospitality and catering field is yet to follow. Typically, the profession has always been blighted by high labour turnover, in part caused by working long unsociable hours and uncompetitive salaries.
The very nature of the service industry commands that delivering customer happiness and satisfaction is a given, but only a few businesses are starting to equate the importance of a happy, dedicated workforce as intrinsic to delivering outstanding customer service.
We all know that more needs to be done to promote the industry as a genuinely desirable and rewarding field in which to work, so businesses should also be thinking about introducing employee engagement programmes that can improve work morale and uplift company culture which can help deliver business objectives.
Perks and benefits
For cynics, engagement programmes coupled by employee perks and benefits can seem like a fad with no tangible or measurable impact on a worker’s productivity. Yet the figures are compelling. A report by The Harvard Business Review found that businesses who take care of their employees can expect to see up to a 31 per cent increase in productivity and up to a 37 per cent increase in sales. Treating employees well has become the catalyst for success.
So what does creating happiness in the workplace look like, and what can every business, no matter what size or in which sector, learn from those who are pioneering a programme that puts employees first? When we examined some of the world’s top companies, we saw something instrinsic: the teams that perform the best all work towards a common goal - they care about the work they do and they understand how their role advances the business.
Some of the things we we identified are common sense. These are our three steps to improving workplace happiness.
1. Practise trust, respect, praise and empathy
Make these the very fabric of your work culture. This is the platform for building happiness in your workforce. Businesses can go a long way by simply treating their staff as human beings. This basic no-cost offering is fundamental to nurturing a collaborative and truly caring work environment.
2. Create a flexible employee engagement programme
This gives staff the freedom to cross-pollinate across departments, identify an area of interest within a specialism and empowers them to develop and refine new skills that will not only benefit their career but the operations of the business too.
3. Offer creative, recreational and practical incentives and benefits to make the salary go further.
Including this symbiotic balance of empathy and physical ‘rewards’ in an employment package is important. It speaks volumes about the collaborative and contented work environment you want to foster and demonstrates an understanding that, beyond work, staff are real people with real families and lives.
In today’s climate, it no longer makes business sense to consider employee happiness as an afterthought. It must become part of the overall business strategy; one that factors in productivity, retention and talent acquisition as valuable products of staff happiness. Replacing members of staff can cost up to £30k once you’re done with training and recruitment, so keeping people happy is much more efficient.
Businesses who do so are making a name for themselves as employers who care. In turn, they are genuinely being recognised as inspirational places in which to work. They are winning the war on talent, retaining staff better and creating a workforce composed of inspired, productive and motivated loyalists.