A powerful and positive working culture is a better driver of business success than technology or money combined. Here is how to build a strong culture in your hospitality business.
Creating and nurturing a positive work culture is important for any business. In fact, many leaders believe culture to be the backbone of any company. Not only does a happy and content workforce aid in the process of making and selling, but it also helps to build an organic working environment that fosters loyalty and investment.
By helping employees feel and work at their best, businesses can see a huge uptick in recruitment, employee loyalty, job satisfaction, collaboration, work performance and morale. But how do you promote one in your workplace?
There is no one way to build culture and often the needs and desires of employees change depending on what the business does and where it operates. Jake Burton, Founder of Burton Snowboards, famously gave all his employees the day off after particularly good snowfalls. Great idea if the company and its employees live in Vermont – not so much if they live in Bondi Beach.
Linda Stanes, co-founder of Fika Swedish Kitchen says lifestyle is a huge part of the working culture in each of their three locations. In the same way that Burton gave his staff time to enjoy their hobbies, Stanes says she feels bringing the Swedish Scandinavian work culture into her Australian business is foundational.
“We really believe in your work-life balance,” she says, “…clocking out at the end of the day and for our staff to go home and not to worry about tomorrow. We’re open to any sort of ideas, discussion. We want people to be part of the team feel at home, it’s a family. I think all our staff members really appreciate that and, you know, love working here because of that.”
Tim McDonald, CEO and co-founder of Fonda Mexican says their culture has remained a core part of who they are but it is ‘very difficult to maintain’. “What I’ve come to realise is that culture isn’t about having drinks nights employee of the month awards, maintaining culture is really about underpinning the business with good systems, good development and clear communication.”
Although many businesses dangle shiny activities and experiences in front of their staff, data suggests that letting your dog come to the office, offering free beer on a Friday and putting ping pong tables in the canteen does little to maintain a great work culture. As McDonald says, it’s about underpinning the business with the right systems to encourage it. Here are a few ways some of the world’s ‘best companies to work for’ encourage positive environments for their workforce. These are attributable to any industry including hospitality.
Have a mission
Every business needs a mission, something you are working towards or believe in. Creating a shared mission brings employees together in pursuit of a common goal or belief and helps to keep people pointing towards the same direction.
Stay true to the mission
A mission only works if it is reinforced daily. Ensure that your team is constantly aware of what the company mission is and how they are helping to achieve it. Ensure the company is actively working towards that mission and that employees can see movement towards it.
Most employees do not know their company mission and values. Ensure that these are communicated adequately and often and show that you make business decisions based on these values.
Maintain a level of transparency
Keeping your employees informed and up to date not only increases their sense of job security but it also makes them feel valued and included. Employees have the power to help add value to the business.
Be open to Feedback
Your employees are working on the front lines, and they should be empowered to provide insights based on their experiences. These insights are an invaluable way for companies to better tailor their services as well as better their working environments. Create situations where employees are encouraged to come forward with their ideas.
If feedback is an important part of creating a great culture, then adapting the business based on that feedback is of equal value. Employees who can see how their input positively affects the business and helps to build trust.
Employees value recognition. Not only does it reinforce positive working behaviours, but it also shows that their efforts are appreciated. Recognise success regularly and often to ensure your workforce feels valued and seen.
Hospitality is a fun industry, and it should be recognised as such. Ensure you build in time for teams to socialise and connect outside of their working duties. Create environments that enable your workers to blow off steam, so they associate work with a balanced lifestyle.
Balance routine with spontaneity
Routine breeds complacency so makes sure to shake things up a bit to keep things fresh. Celebrate wins, send off former employees with work drinks or experiences. Put an onus on family meals to create a sense of occasion. Small things like this go a long way in reducing work apathy.
Hire for your culture
Hire workers that think and act in a way that promotes the culture you are promoting in your business. Hire employees that value missions and goal-orientated progress. Ensure that the teams you’re building can and will work together in a fulfilling way.
Offer growth opportunities
Employees want to feel like they are moving forward. Ensure you have training schemes and programmes to help develop your team. In hospitality, this could be a rotation system that introduces staff to new areas of the business or accredited courses that propel career paths forward. Training from within is also a great way to bring staff up through your company into higher positions.
Create job security
Ultimately staff want to feel safe and secure in their role and confident that their salaries will be paid on time every time.
Measure your culture
As an employer find ways to measure your culture. This could be through anonymous feedback forms, surveys, regularly reviews or open forums. This helps you find out if your employees feel valued, are happy and feel safe in their roles.
Work on your culture
Recognise that work culture is much like the business itself, it changes and evolves and requires constant readjustment. What works one day could collapse the next. Creating structures and safeguards helps to create a better work culture in your business.
Here are seven key takeaways for building culture in 2022 and beyond.
- Focus on wellness
- Build on current culture
- Add value and meaning
- Create goals and missions
- Think and encourage positive thinking
- Create a social fabric
- Listen for feedback and adapt