Free digital copy
Get Speciality Food magazine delivered to your inbox FREEGet your free copy
A recent edition of Desert Island Discs threw up an interesting fact: chefs within Clare Smyth’s brigade at thrice-Michelin-starred restaurant Core work in silence to help concentration and lower the adrenaline rush of service.
This holistic approach may sound far-fetched, but a mental sweep of your workplace could throw up some opportunities to create a more pleasant working environment. Where could excess noise be reduced? How might more orderly storage lower frustrations for everyone? What impact could a more comfy break space have on workers’ impression of how much they’re valued?
“During busy seasons like Christmas, you can limit some of the chaos by having systems in place to manage the extra workload and admin,” says Pam Hinds, head of HR at staff management software provider RotaCloud. “Making sure you have things like rota planning, time tracking and leave management tech set up in advance can minimise some of the disruption.
“You can give people advance notice of their schedules which reduces last-minute changes, and warn people of busy periods and holiday blackouts so there’s less chance of being short-staffed. You can also use labour forecasting tools to have advance sight of your temporary extra staffing needs and costs.”
“Have a team meeting in November to talk through Christmas opening hours, training and seasonal stuff like how to sell a hamper, and how to do shipping,” adds Julia Kirby-Smith, project leader at Better Food Traders.
“It’s important to do all that ahead so people know what’s coming. Maybe you can do fun events that your staff can actually get involved in, too. And allow them to have a small glass of mulled wine on the shop floor.
“Not everyone would take that view but it’s nice if you can make it jolly for them as well so they can get in the festive spirit. In the farm shop we’d often get gifts and cards sent by customers and suppliers – it’s good to make sure they get shared out. We’d have an area in the back where the staff could have a chocolate box or whatever. It’s about making sure everyone feels part of it.” Taking your team with you through a merry Christmas could bag your business a happy new year.
As Julia concludes, “If you find the right people in the first place – people that fit the ethos and culture of your business – that will save a lot of stress in the long term. Life becomes really difficult when you have to hire people on top of running the shop, and keeping the wrong people makes life really difficult.
“Having the right team – good at the operations side but also selling and customer interface – is essential, especially at Christmas!”