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Securing staff

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Rapidly rising wages is putting further pressure on fish and chip shops already struggling to recruit, so what can you do to attract and retain your staff?

It’s a well-known fact that the hospitality sector has been facing a staffing crisis for many years – Brexit and Covid have simply exacerbated the situation. Therefore, it probably comes as no surprise that the sector has topped a study as one of the industry’s struggling the most to recruit right now. 

In the latest figures released by the British Chambers of Commerce, the number of businesses reporting difficulties filling roles has reached a historical high at 79%, up from 77% in the previous quarter. And its hospitality, along with construction, that is reporting the most difficulties, with 83% saying recruiting is problematic. 

For many independent fish and chip shops, this problem is proving even more difficult as high demand for jobs is seeing wages increase as businesses attempt to retain their staff. Sainsbury’s this month, for example, announced it will be paying all staff at least £10 an hour while sandwich chain Pret has given its staff a similar pay rise. 

While we can’t argue that staff don’t deserve the pay rise – and there will be many fish and chip shops that already pay such a wage – it is making it harder for the majority of shops to compete. The government needs to step in and provide training opportunities and temporary visas for lower skilled jobs and to relieve some of the existing pressures on small businesses but this is going to take time. So what can you do to attract and retain staff in the meantime?

While you might not be able to pay more immediately, set out to staff a plan of how their earnings could increase by moving through the ranks and taking on more responsibility. If you know you’re going to have a particularly busy period, give staff a temporary bonus for that time – an extra 50p or £1 an hour during your peak summer or Easter weeks. While you might not be able to match the perks that some larger chains offer, you could run monthly prize draws giving away cinema tickets, high street gift cards, experience vouchers etc. It all adds to your staff’s take-home pay.

Create a dedicated training plan with opportunities and recognised skills for staff to gain – this shows you are willing to invest in them – and explain their career progression so that they can see a future with you.

Make your staff feel valued and part of the team. Seek their opinions on new menu items by holding food tastings and involve them in regular meetings to help drive the business forwards with ideas for events and marketing.

It can be hard to find time to get together but set some dates aside now for team building events throughout the year. Staff will care more and feel more loyalty towards a business they feel part of.

Show your appreciation with little acts of kindness – even if it’s shouting the bacon rolls in the morning or ice creams in the summer. If the business is going well, reward staff. And put all new starters’ birthdays on a calendar and make sure they are marked in some way. 

Look after your staff while they are at work, for example, provide them with free or discounted food and give them a staff room where they can relax and kickback.

And, finally, invest in your business so staff have the right tools to do a job. It’s amazing the impact purchasing even just a dishwasher can have on staff morale!

These won’t work with every employee but if you can make your business a welcoming environment that they look forward to coming into, for many that’s more important than chasing a few extra pounds.

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