Work-Life Balance: The Hospitality Conundrum

24 October 2016

The demand on those of us working in the hospitality industry is relentless: 16 hour days, managing the needs of our guests and overseeing our teams whilst working at 100mph speed. Let’s take a moment and catch our breath!

Most industry professionals will tell you there is no work-life balance or very little. This is the life we chose, we signed up for it. Life is work and work is life. Is this really how it’s always going to be, or can we do something about it?

Juggling everything and getting it right is no mean feat. Unfortunately, while all of this dedicated work is taking place, it is easy to forget the toll the increased demand has on the team – everyone from our junior staff to senior management.

In this career-driven culture, I have witnessed firsthand the stress and pressure that accumulates when our work and family life doesn’t run in sync. It can become difficult to find that balance that satisfies both worlds, particularly when you’ve worked so hard to get where you are.

As individuals and managers there are many steps we can take to address these issues. Here are some tips to help find a better balance and how to keep the best talent in your team:

Working Hours and Rotas
The key to a better work-life balance and happier, more productive staff is developing scheduling scenarios that provide alternatives to the norm. Have you considered changing your rotas to four days on/four days off? Straight shifts? Job share? These are just some ideas that could provide a win-win for everyone.

‘Burnout’ Signs
Operational budgets impact staffing decisions. With the national shortage the hospitality industry is currently facing, the knock on effect is that employees are working longer hours to make up for their team’s scarcity. The ‘burnout’ is linked directly to staff turnover, is widely visible and can affect morale and productivity.

Staff Motivation
Staff at all levels want to feel they have made a contribution, are recognised and that they can achieve. It is important to keep communications open. Make a point of talking with your team about issues, getting their input and learning more about what is happening in their lives.

Staff Initiatives
Introduce wellness programs to encourage workers to stay fit e.g. free memberships to health clubs, gym memberships or something simpler like start a running/walking club. It’s a great way to help keep your staff healthy and happy.

Performance Reviews
Have regular check-ins with your teams to discuss their workload, work-life balance, frustrations and any other issues. In return it will encourage employees to perform better and identify what skills may be lacking or need to be improved.
It is also an opportunity for senior management to explain the company goals and the ways in which employees can contribute in achieving these.

Encourage Holidays
Employees should be encouraged to take their holidays especially when those ‘burnout’ signs are starting to arise. If you keep pushing your staff they will leave. Every one of us has a holiday entitlement get them to use it.

As Specialist Catering & Hospitality Consultant at Cummins Mellor Recruitment, I often come across candidates who love where they work but don’t feel valued enough so want to leave.

Work-life balance is the key to making your staff happy and in return you will see them begin to stay with you longer. If you’re looking for some consultative advice on recruitment for your establishment, please call me for a confidential chat on 01254 239363 or email

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