Are your employees your company’s biggest asset? Damn right they are.

So you’ve set up a fantastic new business. It’s got an incredible menu. The interior is magazine worthy. The location is covetable. Haven’t got the right staff? You might have a problem.

If you’ve ever worked with me or heard me speak at F&B events, you’ll know that I’m a stickler for good service. I believe – no, I know – that good service is a huge part of what determines whether or not somebody becomes a (satisfied) returning customer.

We all know that good service comes from the people you hire, right? They are literally – and I don’t like to use that word – the driving force behind your business. They bring life to the space; they welcome your guests; carry your restaurant’s food; clear up; cash up; close. They’re running your business. Why it then that so many senior managers are so blasé when it comes to the matter of retaining staff? I’ve attended countless meetings where senior level people want to talk numbers – and rightly so, of course – yet when it comes to the matter of staff retention, their eyes glaze over. The thing is, the staff you’re not interested in talking about? They’re contributing directly to those figures that you care so much about.

Let me put the importance of your staff into perspective financially. If someone broke into your premises, vandalised the space and stole all of the material things that you’d invested so much in – technology, accessories, equipment, the cash in the safe – you’d take it seriously, right? You’d probably open a police case and investigate who was responsible. You’d relook your security and make sure the business was better protected moving forward. So why is it that when staff leave, or are poached by competitors (because that’s what happens to good staff who aren’t taken care of properly) some senior level people don’t take it as seriously? Not only have you invested money into these people in the form of in hiring costs, training, uniforms and time, if the person you’ve lost is an exceptional employee, you’re losing potential future income too.

Aside from taking care of the everyday practicalities of running your business for you, here are a few others things that good staff can do for your company:

Generate valuable opportunities – You don’t need to be a sales person or a marketer to help a company expand. Networkers from all divisions see company growth as a collective effort that benefits everyone and they keep their eyes open for ways to more than pay for themselves. In the F&B industry this translates into satisfied – and more importantly – returning customers who spread the word about your establishment.

Treat the company as if it was theirs – A great employee will make decisions about expenses and opportunities with the long-term future of the business in mind. They selflessly assess risk versus reward when making decisions.

Solve problems before they appear – Good employees create positive changes in procedures without managers having to instigate. They proactively improve systems, knowing it will benefit everyone.

Create a collaborative environment that benefits your bottom line – Good people who feel secure in their jobs – and safe enough to share and communicate openly and honestly – tend to generate better ideas more quickly and more successfully to market. In the ideal environment, frontline people and senior leaders should feel comfortable hashing out issues and making decisions together, knowing that each member of the team has the others’ backs. In short, great employees drive the entire company forward.

Enthusiastically learn all aspects of the business – Key people understand that they’re part of a bigger picture, so they look to learn about as much as they can – finance and management, for example – so that they can positively impact other areas of your company.

Speak up – Amazing employees know that hiding unfortunate news – or even worse, lying – is bad for business. They find kind ways to bring awkward information to the surface, but they do bring it to the surface. They tell people what they need to know before any real damage is done.

Demonstrate high standards with low maintenance – Great employees don’t need to be asked to do a better job. They do their job at the highest standard because that’s what they’d expect from the people they’d hire.

Grow themselves – and others – Employees worth keeping inspire people to improve and drive everyone’s careers forward. They lead by example without making people feel resentful. They bring their colleagues along on their journey, inspiring others to improve themselves along the way.

Research, apply and refine – Inspiring employees continue learning – without direction from the top – because they are aware that business is ever changing and it’s not possible to know everything at any one time.

Encourage happiness – Great employees can stay grounded – they know that life isn’t always bubbles and butterflies – but they are self-aware and able to direct a path that brings out the best in their colleagues, friends and family. They exude positive energy – even during stressful situations – making for an upbeat, positive work environment.

My advice if you’ve not taken your staff as seriously as you potentially should have up to this point? Find time to sit down with the person who has just resigned or has been head hunted and find out what you could do to potentially get them to stay. And if it’s too late? Find out what you could have done better – and act on it with the good staff you have left.

Duncan Fraser-Smith is the founder of The Cutting Edge Agency that specialises in the development and creation of benchmark F&B concepts through conceptualisation and training, as well as sourcing and partnering with international brands and high-profile chefs to successfully establish their presence in the Middle East.

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