19 June 2008, 15:35 PM
  • This month, Sarah Townsend at Relish Food & Drink looks at the best ways to get competitive employees

“With summer looming, now seems a good time to reflect on what we’ve managed to do with the business over the quiet months at Relish.

Our biggest ‘must do’ this year was staff training. Not the day to day sort, but the formal, certificating stuff. We choose our staff for their personalities and interest in food and drink, rather than their experience, knowledge or qualifications. This means we have to spend a lot of time and effort teaching them the job and the products, sometimes from scratch.

In this day and age, however, just learning a job from your employer is not enough. Whilst it suits us rather more to train our staff the way we want, it can only be healthy to expose them to other ways of doing things and different sources of knowledge. We are constantly encouraged and sometimes required to dedicate ever increasing amounts of time and money to formal training. This we’re happy to do in order to help motivation, keep up interest in the job and improve specific knowledge, among other things.

Three of our staff are completing NVQs in customer service and retail skills. On completion of the course they will get a qualification and a certificate to prove they’ve achieved a nationally recognised standard. This enables them to think about what they do and how they do it, how it relates to the business and to their own personal development. Although, they give staff a recognised qualification, there are no delivered lessons and they are assessed on the skills taught in the workplace.

We also sent one of our girls on a cheese and charcuterie course. She came back positively bristling with information and enthusiasm and was pleasantly surprised by how much she already knew about the subject.

In conclusion, is staff training costing us money? Yes. Can we afford to pay staff any more in recognition of their achievement? No. Are staff now better qualified to find another job? Yes. Are staff more motivated in their jobs due to training commitment? Yes. Are recognised qualifications a good idea over quality on the job training? In my opinion, that’s a big no. Our staff are all far more knowledgeable and confident in their roles now than when we recruited them as we teach them new skills and facts everyday. We are constantly tasting, discussing and questioning things together. We treat them as partners in the business and will continue to do so.”