The importance of staff wellbeing
Words by The Pinnacle founders
Originally we hadn't planned on pulling this topic out as a stand-alone Round Table discussion. However, as the programme has progressed it has become clear that if The Pinnacle Guide is to be a truly modern business - awarding and rewarding all areas of bar culture - then how venues take care of their staff was something that needed to be fleshed out.
We've discussed in other Round Tables how we assess the ethics of business - but when it comes to care and support of your staff, it feels only right that this is taken into consideration too. While it's important to remember that (most of us) are hospitality professionals, not health care professionals - there is a consensus that bar owners or managers have a duty of care when it comes to staff. Physical health and safety is often policed by governing bodies (albeit different around the world) but staff well being, support, career progression and job security should also be part of what makes a venue one of the very best in the world.
Angus Winchester, Director of Drink & People at Wild West Group - stated that there were certain elements that made for motivated, cared for staff members - growth within your role, trust and communication with your team and recognition for your endeavours. He also cited the use of Gallup's Q12 survey - an anonymous set of questions that accurately measures employee engagement. Would this be a suitable addition to The Pinnacle Guide's criteria that a selection of employees complete something like this? Ultimately, happy cared for staff will make for a better bar experience and if our industry "standard" included this level of detail - surely that would make for a positive change?
Shel Buhler, Brand Director for Aparium Hotels asked whether lawsuits should be disclosed at the point of registration for The Pinnacle Guide - as a way of removing bad operators. However, could that allow for one bad apple to taint the whole bar team? And as Eugene Nyaundi explained - this would certainly not result in much when dealing with African venues - where hospitality staff often have far less secure job contracts or employee rights.
So is the opportunity to interview staff a viable one when asking bars to submit their information to become part of The Pinnacle Guide? Or should this level of detail be reserved for those that pass the first assessment and are then striving for a 1, 2 or 3 PIN status? It was discussed whether employees would tell the truth when answering these questions if they knew an award was on the line, however - if it was entirely anonymous - why lie?
Should be rewarding longevity within bar teams? Is this one of the easiest ways to dictate if staff are happy and secure in their work? Are there other topline questions that could be asked - average hours per week perhaps? Or each venue's stance on getting home safely after hours?
Lauren Paylor, founder of Focus on Health - also rightfully reminded us that The Pinnacle Guide has a duty of care when discussing and possibly discovering any wrongdoing in the workplace. Much like other key topics we have discussed so far, it's clear we have a responsibility to create a tool kit or reference library for anyone looking for support which, aside from being a huge undertaking, will be an unbelievable resource for our industry.
However, for the third panel discussion in a row, the consensus from the speakers was "don't let perfection get in the way of progress" - once again reiterating that we should be rewarding companies that are, at the very minimum, making steps forwards towards a better hospitality industry.
As always - we're here to put your opinions on record as we shape and formulate The Pinnacle Guide. If you have any feedback to this conversation, please email hello@thepinnacleguide and we'll come straight back to you.
Thi sessions panellists
Angus has been in the drinks industry for over 33 years. As founder member of one of the first global bar consultancies, and now running Alconomics Asia based from Hong Kong, Angus has provided on-premise consultancy, profit enhancement advice and training bars all over the world. More recently he was the Operations Director for the Jigger & Pony Group based in Singapore and he is now Director of Drink & People at Wild West Group in the UK.
Angus is also the Global Education Director for BCB – Berlin, Sao Paulo and Singapore – curating the education programs for over 25,000 visitors and on more than 15 stages.
Eugene is a hospitality consultant and educator in the African market with a background in communication and psychology. He has worked with Healthy Hospo globally, but also locally and regionally with key emphasis and outlook in regards to sustainability and environmental conservation on the African landscape.
Lauren Paylor O'Brien
Lauren has worked many roles in the food and beverage industry, including lead bartender of Drink Co., F&B Manager for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants in Washington, DC, and as the R&D Production Chef at Silver Lyan. Today, she spends her time creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces through her work with Focus on Health.
Alongside this, she is also the owner of a beverage consulting business LP Drinks Co., a Safe Bars Trainer, and the social media coordinator for Speed Rack.
Shel spent over a decade bouncing back and forth between Los Angeles and New York but she is now the Brand Director for Aparium Hotels. Aparium is a boutique luxury / lifestyle company that owns and operates 10 independent hotels and 26 restaurants and bars in emerging markets across the US. Before this she spent six years growing Thompson and Joie de Vivre Hotels globally and before that she was the East Coast Brand Ambassador for Beefeater and Plymouth Gin.