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UAE’s F&B sector has work to do on employee loyalty

Businesses are constantly hemmed in by high turnover rates of key personnel

Gulf News

For the average consumer, every restaurant experience is typically rated on two or three major criteria.

These usually include the food quality, the service quality and the ambience. Needless to say, food quality and service quality are highly dependent on one of the biggest assets to the business — the staff. Just like any other organisation, hiring the right type of talent for a restaurant will play a major role in success or failure.

While recruitment itself can be a tedious process, most restaurants face a bigger challenge post recruitment, which is, retaining the staff. In the UAE, the hospitality and F&B industry experience one of the highest employee turnovers.

This makes it harder for employers to invest in their employees for the long term. As such, it becomes even more critical for the employer to ensure the right steps are taken during the on-boarding process to hire the necessary talent.

Let’s talk about the first and foremost step in the recruitment process, i.e., listing a job vacancy. This may be done by going through a recruitment agency or by placing ads on employment forums. Either ways, it is imperative the posting adequately describes the job, the roles and responsibilities and skills required, and target the right audience.

Selecting the right platform to place an ad is extremely crucial as this will eventually define the quality of candidates coming through.

Once the position has been listed and candidates begin applying, only candidates suitable for the position should be filtered through for personal interviews. This step must be overseen by a competent individual well versed with the requirements of the restaurant.

Once shortlisted, candidates should go through a thorough interview process with senior management. The number or depth of interviews would be subject to the seniority of the position being filled. Once again, it is the employer’s responsibility to have a well-structured interview with a list of questions that will help them attain the maximum information about the potential candidates for each position.

This should include, but not be limited to, gaining information about their basic educational qualifications, prior work experience, what skills and talents can they bring, and why they would be a good fit. Furthermore, getting a basic understanding of candidates’ requirements — such as their legal status in the country, their accommodation, transport and salary expectations, etc — will help the employer offer a suitable package.

This is particularly important in the case of entry level positions in the UAE F&B industry, where salary packages tend to be rather low. Another factor to review is the candidate’s duration at previous jobs, as multiple short stints are a red flag. It is essential that a long-term commitment with the business is discussed with the candidate so that both can benefit.

If an employee seems suitable for a particular position, we would highly recommend sending in the candidate for an actual assessment of skills at the restaurant. Placing the candidate in the restaurant for a certain period will allow the employer to assess the candidate on a practical level on all fronts. On-the-job assessment should test the ability of the employee to understand the operations and conduct the necessary tasks accordingly, the candidate’s skill level, work attitude and behaviour towards other team members, and their ability to cope with challenges in the work environment.

A final check for a suitable candidate can be done through obtaining references from previous employers to get their views on the skill and competency of the selected candidate.

Following selection, a crucial aspect that most employers tend to skip is providing the right kind of guidance for a specific job. While the candidate would bring certain skills, imparting your restaurant’s standards and procedures and ensuring their existing skills are adequately applied are partly the employer’s responsibility.

Following this structured approach will ensure consistency of service across all employees and boost their morale and loyalty towards the business. This in turn will incentivise them to stay longer and grow with the restaurant.

— The writer is Managing Director of Ribbon Consulting.

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