Cornish hotels fight working condition stereotypes

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Cornish hotels are coming together to counter the perceptions of working in the hospitality industry of long hours, weekend work, low scale pay and strict management style in the kitchens.

Two hotels in particular are encouraging a work life balance within the workplace to attract and retain staff all year round.

Operations Director at UNA resort in St Ives, Yvonne Colgan, said most good employers “think about work-life balance, in Cornwall I would like to think we are a bit ahead of the pack and consider life-work balance instead”.

“Our team is led by professionals who wholeheartedly support creating a modern working environment where professionalism, creativity and fun are equally important as respect, consideration and empathy,” Yvonne explained.

“When recruiting at UNA we tend to look at the whole person, they are not just a pair of hands, and our job is to find out what makes them tick.”

One of the questions asked at interview is ‘how do you picture your perfect work life balance’.

“We need to know what’s important as it varies for each person, for some it’s their family and children, for others it’s their dogs or rugby team,” Yvonne continued.

“Once we know what it is, we can look to create flexibility from both sides to accommodate mutual needs.”

Adjustments at UNA for staff has included building a kennels so one of the chefs can bring their dogs to work and working the rota for a member of the team to play for their rugby club.

“Whilst there are times that require an all hands on deck approach, we try to play for these situations as opposed to being reactive. We know that being flexible and fair pays off, as it is essential to building good teams and good teams by their very nature, almost self-regulate themselves and everyone works to carry their share of the load.”

At UNA management see health and wellbeing of the team as an important priority and consider a candidates outlook to their own wellbeing when recruiting.

“Employees taking personal responsibility for themselves and their development is valuable to us all, “Yvonne explained.

“On appointment we give employees complimentary membership to our gym, pool and leisure facilities and free access to any fitness classes we run ourselves. This is a well-used benefit, as is the discount scheme they can use when dining with family and friends.”

“To see a colleague come in on their days off with people they care about, shows us how proud they are to be part of UNA. We love it.”

Fowey Hall Hotel, part of the luxury Family group, has a unique family brand which attracts guests initially, however it’s the culture of unparalleled service that captures their loyalty.

General Manager at Fowey Hall Hotel, Peter Brighouse, said that this dynamic is “largely influenced by our staff.”

“We have seen first-hand that getting young people into the industry has become more challenging, and there has been a significant decline in job applications within the Industry over the last few years,” Peter explained.

“For us it begins at the recruitment stage, recruiting the right people. Then it’s all about keeping these team members happy to ensure they remain engaged and committed to guest service. Ensuring they have a good work life balance, making sure they feel appreciated and valued and that our benefits and incentives are motivating, driving their loyalty.”

“This begins with making sure we have a large enough team to cover the departmental schedule, so no one has to work excessive hours. We also share the schedules with our staff as far in advance as possible, this helps both the hotel and the employee so home life plans can be made.”

Benefits are well received, including a competitive salary, especially for the industry with an excellent share of service charge, according to Peter.

“We offer heavily discounted stays for employees and their families at Luxury Family properties with 50% off food and beverage and 50% off spa treatments,” he added.

Business Development Advisor at Cornwall College Business, Charles Clemow, said there is “no coincidence that employers within the industry who embrace and promote a positive work life balance retain and attract staff.”

Membership Operations Manager at employer-led skills and quality assurance expert People 1st International Ltd, Andy Doyle, said changing employee expectations are “forcing businesses to rethink the way they invest in and develop their people.”

“Knowing what motivates staff and what will make them stay is critical to improving retention, so it’s extremely encouraging to see fresh approaches being adopted by these two local hotels.”

“We hope to see more employers across the industry committing to work-life balance, providing good quality training and support to their employees, apprentices and students on work placements in the coming months as we launch a new ‘Code of Conduct’ initiative this May which aims to change perceptions and to show that our industry is changing for the better.”

To find out more about apprenticeships at Cornwall College contact CCB Training’s Apprenticeship Recruitment Team on 0330 123 4785.