Too many cooks spoiling your broth?

too many cooks spoiling your broth

Too many cooks spoiling your broth?


A lasting culinary experience is usually served up by passionate people who love what they do. A popular belief amongst Buddhists is that if you prepare a meal with love and empathy, the food will transmit positive energy to the one you are feeding – nourishing others, not only physically but also emotionally. It’s no secret, there is usually nothing that taste’s quite like mum’s dinners.

What about the food & beverage served in your business? Do your people love what they do and care about creating moments for your patrons? If so, what measures have you taken to retain them?

There are many upsides in implementing strategies to retain talent. Short-term benefits include: reducing downtime, mitigating key person risk, increasing quality control and uplifting the overall culture for your customers and patrons. There are also many long-term benefits including, a higher tender strike rate and priming your business to an investment/sale ready state.

Whether you are seeking to improve a deteriorating situation or priming your business for longevity, we have provided the following strategies to assist you in retaining your talent within your business.

1. Nip bad behaviour in the bud

Few things drive good people away as quickly as a toxic work environment. Your people should generally understand the pressures of working in a fast-paced environment, however, it usually only takes one disgruntled, ill-mannered person to create a toxic environment. As a business owner or manager, nip this in the bud. Taking a top-down approach and a no tolerance policy for bad behaviour can help improve talent retention and validate the culture champions that are already taking a stand within your kitchen.

2. Understand your people

It’s a nice feeling when you know that you are understood. When you ‘get’ the people you are working with, it makes things considerably easier to get through a tough day in the kitchen. Multi-generational businesses need the ability to deeply understand their people; a cocktail of baby boomers and Generation-X, Y and Z could be disastrous in a highly-strung environment.

Take a moment to understand the people within your kitchen; What makes them tick? What gets them going? What makes them smile? If you think you are beginning to understand them, let them know in subtle ways. This could mean the difference between keeping people or driving them away.

3. Try and keep it as public as possible

If your work environment is confined to a warehouse space or within a tucked away kitchen, try and have it run as though it were open to public display. You may even set the expectation that you will often provide guests with a kitchen tour to ensure that everyone remains as professional as they can.

4. Strike a balance

It is important to strike a balance of gender, age and diversity within the kitchen. Move to de-bunk fallacies of “work being overly physical for women” or “possessing skill sets that only comes with age”. Striking a balance of personalities, gender, diversity and age groups is important in creating a pleasant kitchen culture.

5. Reduce your reliance on labour hire

It’s all too easy to get stuck with the convenience of having a pool of staff at your disposal through labour hire agencies. Sure, this may help your bottom dollar when your business undergoes seasonal downturns, however, this may have a negative impact on your existing permanent staff and even the way your customers perceive you. Sporadically filling your business with short-term labour staff during your peak season can cause any culture they embrace during their tenure to walk straight out the front door with them during your off season.

If you must rely on labour hire agencies, try and negotiate favourable terms that will allow you to on-board your “keepers” with little to no recruitment fee when you are nearing your off season. This way, the culture embodied by the people within your business isn’t being recycled every season. 

Should you have any questions regarding the above please contact your ESV engagement partner on 02 9283 1666.

Article by Colin Samuel