Learning & Development: integral to recruitment strategy

For leading employers, a strong Learning and Development (L&D) programme is a key part of their recruitment strategy. An engaged and better skilled workforce benefits not only the employer but also the employee, resulting in higher retention rates and a more fluent customer service. A good L&D programme can also provide attraction for top talent searching for the right ‘fit’ with an employer.

Caterer.com invited leading thinkers and practitioners in hospitality Learning and Development to the Sky Garden at London’s famed Walkie Talkie building on October 5th to discuss what L&D means to them and their businesses, how to use L&D as part of the recruitment process and how to create an L&D offering that best engages and retains employees.

“Learning & Development needs to be in the DNA of the business,” began Helen Fahy from The Doyle Collection. A notion generally agreed with, but how programmes are implemented and understood by all staff, from management down differs from employer to employer.

“For me, L&D is about the process and ability to support people to have the right skills and behaviours to deliver what the business is trying to deliver,” James Appleton from Mitchells and Butlers offered. “A lot of L&D needs ‘future-proofing’ and that relies on a clear business strategy.” Sridhar Pathigari from The Arts Club agreed, “I look at the different perspectives of the management and the shareholders. I align the training programmes to what they want. That includes future planning.”

However, what benefits employer must also benefit employee. Over the years, candidates have become more savvy regarding their options. Staff know where they want to be and where they see themselves, and as Anne Dewison (Aramark) observes, “There’s no longer a queue of people waiting to come in,” So it’s important to integrate Learning & Development into the hiring process if top talent are to be attracted to a role.

How that training is implemented is an equally important consideration, as Adam Kirkaldy said, “Training and coaching needs to be an everyday transaction between management and supervisors and their staff.”

“Are you waiting for somebody who is ready to step into the role, or are you willing to teach them in the role?” James Appleton asked. “There’s a big divide there. If you promote somebody, do you give them the tools they need to do that job beforehand, with the danger that when they take on the role they get bored? This is when recruitment fuses with L&D.”

Engaging existing staff can also sometimes be a challenge. Within some companies, training is viewed as something that ‘must’ be done, rather than something that staff are willing to do. The Doyle Collection created a programme called ‘The Passport’. Described as ‘a self-directed learning tool’, ‘The Passport’ turned training into a problem-solving game, a treasure hunt, as Helen Fahy describes, “It invoked fun and enthusiasm. There was more engagement. It also branded our L&D offering.” Sridhar Pathigari from The Arts Club talked about the way he piqued the interest his staff. He hand-picked key influencers from different departments and invited them to a training day – he sold the session as being an exclusive invitation. “Be there at 4pm,” he told them, “late comers will not be admitted.” Only six out of ten invitees arrived at the correct time. When the remaining four turned up late, they were asked to leave. This course of action intrigued Sridhar’s staff, making them wonder what this new scheme was all about and making them want to be a part of it. It made the people who did turn up feel special. “They actually went back to the floor and said, ‘You know what? We’re special!” When Sridhar opened up another 20-place training programme, 40 employees signed up within 24 hours.

Praising the good work of employees is a practise all attendees considered paramount. “You need to find people doing things really well, and celebrate it.” Helen Fahy said, “If you see me doing something really well, you’re going to try and emulate that, whether it’s for the gold star or the kudos.” Gurjit Sandhu from Jumeirah noted, “There are great recognition schemes in place to reinforce behaviours that will drive success. But it’s about keeping the schemes at the forefront of managers minds so that they utilise them more.” Helen Fahy added, “Behaviour breeds behaviour. We always do a shout out to people for doing a great job, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. We take that as a win on the L&D side of things. There is always something behind a good job that relates to L&D. Whether is behaviour or a skill, it’s all development.”

It was agreed that further discussion of topics relating to Learning & Development would be beneficial to all parties, and it’s hoped to reconvene at a later date.

The Learning & Development round table discussion was hosted by Neil Pattison, Sales Director of Caterer.com and was attended by Adam Kirkaldy, L&D Manager, Corbin & King, Alice Lilley, HR Officer, GBK, Anne Dewison, L&D Manager, Aramark Northern Europe, Calvern James, Sale Manager, caterer.com, Daniel Solomon, Recruitment Manager UK, Melia White House, Gurjit Sandhu, Regional Director of Talent, Learning & Development – Europe, Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, Helen Fahy, Head of Quality & Culture, The Doyle Collection, James Appleton, Head of Retail Recruitment, Mitchell’s and Butler’s, Jessica Sullivan, Product Specialist, Totaljobs Group and Sridhar Pathigari, Learning & Development Manager, The Arts Club.

Caterer.com People Awards Winner Profile Rewards & Benefits – Jumeirah Hotels

Ask any employer within the hospitality industry and they’ll all say the same: Recruiting top talent is only half the battle, keeping hold of their skills and expertise is the real trick. Of course, many factors can come into play; salary, location, a strong learning & development package, but like all of us, your people want to feel valued and the perks of the job can be just as important as any other consideration. Jumeirah Hotels not only understand this, they ensure it’s a core element of their offering. So much so that their employee benefits offering won them the Rewards & Benefits category at our Caterer.com People Awards 2016.

Dawn Vermeire, HR Director at Jumeirah said, “We believe that when candidates are looking for a new job, they are actually looking for a new experience. When you join a new company in a new position you instantly enter that new experience. Rewards and benefits play a huge role in this. Having attractive rewards and benefits that cater to your needs is very important for potential candidates and can often be the reason they choose one company over another.”

David Morison, Assistant Director of HR at Jumeirah agreed, “We have more and more competition now in London. A benefits package working alongside other initiatives from Jumeirah allows us to be the employer of choice for potential candidates. They also allow us to drive wellbeing in our organisations which in turn positively impacts our service profit chain.”

Like any great employer, Jumeirah genuinely wants to reward the hard work of their employees, but feels these benefits should be relevant to their work and lifestyle. Jumeirah implemented a programme via an online platform allowing employees to easily access benefits that would be useful to them. These included shopping vouchers in over 100 high street stores, cashback for car insurance, discounted cinema tickets, petrol, restaurants and childcare vouchers. In addition, Jumeirah offer all employees the opportunity to stay at their five star properties worldwide for a fraction of normal cost. A colleague recognition programme has been developed, where employees can nominate colleagues who they feel go the extra mile in providing inspiration to the team. David Morison added, “Our R&B offering also includes a wide range of social activities that help bring people together and really drives our guiding principle of people focus and collaboration.”

In order to develop this kind of offering, employee opinion is vital. “We believe it’s important to speak to our teams to establish want they want and what they value from our packages.” David Morison said, “We take feedback from our colleague consultative committee and run surveys and focus groups to ensure our offerings meet the needs of our teams.” Jumeirah also conduct competitor analysis to ensure that their offerings are at least equal to, or exceed the market.

Jumeirah’s Rewards & Benefits programme has proved extremely popular with employees. David Morison continued, “We work hard to communicate our benefits so there is an understanding of what is available, and how to access them. In our last survey, 75% ‘Strongly Agree’ or ‘Agreed’ to the question “I have a good understanding of my benefits”

On winning the 2016 Caterer.com People Award for Rewards & Benefits, Dawn Vermeire said, “We are so excited to have been recognised for such a prestigious award through Caterer.com as we work extremely hard to ensure our colleagues are engaged with the rewards and benefits available. We are very happy to be able to share this news with potential candidates looking to join Jumeirah.” David Morison concluded, “It’s been very uplifting for our teams to know that the hard work we do in sourcing, sharing, communicating and evaluating our reward and benefits offerings is valued so highly both within and outside of our organisation.”

We congratulate Jumeirah on their win in the Rewards & Benefits category at the 2016 Caterer.com People Awards and wish them every success for the future.

DISHOOM shake the room at Caterer.com People Awards 2016

Increasingly, candidates know exactly where they want to be on their career path and they want the tools to get there. Now more than ever, a great Learning & Development package is essential in not only recruiting top talent, but retaining them too. Many L&D managers agree that training, formal or not, needs to be an on-going process, equipping and enriching your team, bringing out the best in the individual and also your brand.

To rapturous applause, Indian street food-wallahs, Dishoom, walked away with the Learning & Development award at this year’s Caterer.com People Awards.

“Top of the priority list for most successful businesses is the need to attract and retain the most vibrant and exciting talent available,” said Brian Trollip, Operations Director at Dishoom. “That talent is largely going to be the driving force behind the success of any business.  It’s unlikely that this talent is going to join a business which does not look to unlock their full potential by offering them exceptional support, guidance and mentorship.”

Dishoom’s L&D offering includes a rich and diverse two-year training program for each department with industry recognised qualifications, on-going food and drink training, a seven-month management training course, outreach to local charities, state-of-mind workshops, one-on-one mentorship, restaurant art walks, history tours and, for Head Chefs, GMs and long-standing employees, a week-long Bombay boot camp in India.

Brian Trollip explained, “Strong learning and development is a responsibility that all businesses should take seriously and work towards. In order for the values and culture of your business to shine through, it’s imperative that you have a strong, fulfilled team who are fully bought in and who know that they have a level of ownership with regards to future success of the business.”

Dishoom’s keyword is ‘Seva’. As defined by Dishoom, ‘Seva’ is the art of selfless service, of doing the right thing even if nobody is looking, imparting ‘big-hearted love’ and bringing out the very best in yourself and those around you. Dishoom believes that this outlook challenges their teams and constantly redefines what they do and how they do it.

Dishoom is also steeped in its culture. The mise-en-scene of each of its four restaurants is deliberate, nothing is accidental. Many individuals and companies purport to ‘love people’, but with Dishoom, one gets the feeling that there is nothing disingenuous about this claim. Everything within their restaurants is geared toward a shared sense of warmth and the best experience possible. Their Learning & Development programme completely reflects this.

Brian Trolliop commented, “L&D’s entire function is the empowerment of people.  Great L&D focuses on delivering and refining the skills an individual requires in order to get the most out of life, no matter what path their career takes.  It provides the opportunity for businesses to influence the way in which employees will approach all manner of situations and relationships as their careers develop. It’s an absolute force for good.”

As to winning the Learning & Development award, Brian and the team couldn’t be happier, “Honestly, we’re over the moon.  Dishoom has grown very organically over the past six years.  Our senior team is really small and we’ve worked exceptionally hard in order to create an unmistakeable culture around the values that mean so much to us. This award is testament to the effort and commitment of so many team members.”

For the future, Dishoom has exciting plans with a new restaurant opening in Edinburgh in November this year. Beyond that, Dishoom’s charity work is only to be praised. Brian Trollip explains, “We’ve provided well over a million meals to children who might not otherwise have been able to afford a meal throughout the previous few months, both in the UK and in India.  We will continue to provide thousands of meals to these children, every single day, through our meal for a meal charity initiative, which means that every time a guest enjoys a meal at Dishoom, we buy one for a child who may need a little support.”

We congratulate Dishoom whole-heartedly on winning the Learning & Development award at this year’s Caterer.com People Awards.

You’re probably losing applications. Here’s why…

Our clients who use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)  to capture job applications, typically suffer an 80% drop-off in candidates; that’s up to 8 out of 10 candidates they could be missing out on.

So why do so many candidates fail to complete the application process? Because when candidates are transferred to an ATS or the company’s own website, they have to re-enter their details, making the application process repetitive and lengthy. And that’s not the only reason why these candidates don’t see an application through…

Tech specs

Today’s candidates expect a fast, easy application process. Recruitment is now almost 100% digital, with online CVs, digital portfolios and recruitment platforms becoming the norm. The result is we all expect speed and efficiency. If a website is too complicated, slow, clunky or repetitive, do you stick around? Neither will your candidates.

The internet is full of examples of jobseekers complaining about poorly designed online job applications. From too-small text input boxes to automatic session timeouts, if the process isn’t streamlined and practically designed then candidates understandably get frustrated – sometimes enough to raise their voices about it online. And enough to make them give up on a job application too.

Is your site and application process mobile-friendly?

Mobile now represents 65% of digital media time, while the desktop is becoming a ‘secondary touch point’ for an increasing number of digital users. How easy is it for your users to view or apply for vacancies via mobile? If you’re not able to reach your audience through mobile search or display, or you’re not providing a satisfactory mobile experience, you could be missing out compared to competitors who are. Once again, if candidates can’t complete their application on mobile, they won’t bother. Search and apply on mobile devices is seamless on Caterer.com, but if you then send candidates through an ATS or a career site that is not, you will lose applications along the way.

Job descriptions

It’s not just the process, but the content of your job advertising that matters. Featuring high on anyone’s list of ‘Top things I dislike about job-hunting’ is job descriptions. No one wants to read a rambling job description that’s several pages long or so vague they have little to no idea what the job actually entails, and no one wants to spend valuable time trying to decipher the latest buzzwords. A job description should be sufficient and attractive enough to reflect a company’s brand and culture.  We’ll be releasing a report with more detail on this topic later in the year.

Give candidates what they want

If sending applicants to an external application site leads to dramatic losses in applicant numbers, what’s the solution? Streamlining the process.

Our data shows that when our clients’ ATS systems integrate with our new and free to use Caterer.com ATSi Apply integration, they receive up to 100% of applications –- as opposed to just 20% for non-integrated clients.

Integrating your ATS and application process cuts down on length and repetition, creating a smoother, faster user experience for all.

The integration directly transfers candidate details and CVs into your system, delivering a swift job-seeker experience across all devices. It means candidates no longer have to waste time entering and then re-entering details or re-uploading CVs. They enter their info once, and that’s it.

ATSi Apply is a free service, which integrates with your existing ATS system in no time. It’s already streamlined the application process for The Dorchester, Nando’s and Bella Italia, picked up a technical innovation award, and helped recruiters increase applications by up to 400%.

In a skills poor market, nobody wants to put good candidates off. If you’d like to enable the ATSi Apply service and start receiving the applications you should be, speak to your Caterer.com account manager or call 0333 0145 111.

The first four months: what effect has the Brexit vote had on hospitality recruitment?

It’s been four months since Britain voted to leave the European Union and although the full implications of this decision won’t be known until after Article 50 is triggered – with prime minister Theresa May recently confirming that this will happen at the end of March 2017, meaning an exit from the UK isn’t likely until mid-2019 – figures so far suggest it isn’t all doom and gloom, especially for the hospitality industry.

The good news

For one thing, unemployment fell by 39,000 (to 1.63 million) between May and July – which suggests that, as yet, the job market hasn’t become a victim of the dreaded ‘Brexit effect’. In fact, the unemployment rate is lower than it was a year ago (4.9% compared to 5.5%), and the future looks similarly bright in the world of the hospitality industry – one of the largest employers in the UK – largely thanks to a surge in visitors to the UK. Figures released by the ONS showed that July was a record month for tourists, with a whopping 3.8 million visiting Britain – that’s a 2% increase on the same time last year – collectively spending £2.5 billion (an increase of 4% on the previous year).

This influx has no doubt been spurred by the fact that, post-Brexit, the pound has fallen to its lowest level for more than 30 years – meaning inbound tourists’ money being worth a great deal more. The result is that since the end of June, international flight bookings to the UK have increased by 7.1%, while bookings from Europe for trips to the UK have increased by 5%.

Given that the prime minister’s recent clarification of the timeline for Brexit resulted in the pound falling to a three-year low against the euro and its lowest level against the dollar since early July, this trend looks set to continue. Visitors are coming from further afield too. Cheapflight claims that searches for journeys to Britain from America have doubled, with further increases of 61% from China and 49% from Canada. This will no doubt spark a sharp recruitment drive in related industries such as hospitality, as tourists flock to hotels, bars and restaurants to make the most of the strength of their currencies against the pound.

Also noteworthy is the positive impact that the UK’s Brexit decision has had on the domestic hotel market. As well as the growing numbers of visitors, 2.5 million Brits are opting for ‘staycations’, as the falling pound makes holidays abroad more expensive. This has meant a double boost for tourism, and looks set to give the industry a record-breaking year – with one of the hottest ever Septembers and low interest rates contributing to a potential hospitality recruitment boom. The Tourism Alliance estimated that spending by Britons on UK holidays has been up by 17% on 2015 so far this year, with British Hospitality Association (BHA) chairman Nic Varney suggesting at this year’s British Hospitality and Tourism Summit that “tourism and leisure can continue to grow under Brexit.”

Things to be wary of… 

It’s worth remembering that while a potential boom in customers is an exciting prospect for businesses; with research indicating that more than 61,000 foodservice and accommodation employers in the UK will lack key skills by 2020, such a dramatic increase in new jobs is likely to expedite this problem and make filling these hard-to-fill roles even more difficult. Furthermore, according to The Migration Observatory’s ‘Migrants in the UK Labour Market’ report from 2014, foreign-born workers made up 43% of those in ‘Food preparation and hospitality’ and 25% of ‘Managers and proprietors in hospitality’. Fewer new European arrivals in the UK would therefore leave a shortfall in the industry that there simply aren’t enough Britons with the right skills to fill. In an article in the Economist in May 2015 it was suggested that, “Some industries, especially those that struggle to replace human labour with technology, would be left foundering without a ready supply of migrant labour.” 

In short, while Brexit may well bring about new opportunities in the hospitality industry, it’s likely to exaggerate an existing issue and make finding (and retaining) individuals with the right skills more important than ever. Our Carerer.com People Awards recognise employers that are tackling this skills shortage with innovation and initiative. Find out more about this year’s winners.

Caterer.com People Awards 2016 Winner Profile – Ambassador to the Industry, The Clink Restaurant Company

“The catering industry is currently experiencing a major skills shortage, so highly qualified chefs and waiting staff are extremely sought after,” says Christopher Moore, Chief Executive of The Clink Restaurant Company. “The Clink Charity helps solve both of these issues that, in their own ways, have an impact on society.

Christopher Moore was speaking as The Clink Restaurant Company became the proud winner of the Ambassador to the Industry award at this year’s Caterer.com People Awards. Presented at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge on October 12, the awards celebrated the finest achievements in hospitality recruitment, retention and development.

The prestigious Ambassador to the Industry award seeks to recognise long term success in championing the spirit of the hospitality sector by an individual or a team, and work that nurtures careers and talent. To say that The Clink embodies this award would be an understatement. The Clink’s work in training prison learners and equipping them with the skills and confidence to build careers upon their release, is vital.

Christopher Moore commented, “It is a great honour for The Clink team to have won this prestigious award in recognition of our work.”

The Clink has had enormous success in reducing reoffending rates through accredited City & Guilds NVQ training in food preparation and food service, thus equipping prisoners and ex-offenders with formalised education and valuable soft skills that help them to gain employment upon their release.

The story of The Clink Restaurant Company began in 2009, when the first restaurant opened at HMP High Down in Surrey. The then catering manager, Alberto Crisci, identified the need to provide formal qualifications and support for prisoners that can be utilised in the outside world. Soon after, The Clink opened Bromley Gardens, enabling prisoners to train in horticulture. The gardens also grew three quarters of the vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant. A second restaurant opened at HMP Cardiff in 2013, with HMP Brixton opening the following year. In addition, Click Events provides external catering for parties and receptions.

Since the opening of HMP High Down, The Clink has trained more than 800 prisoners and currently works with up to 160 learners per day. Whether working in the kitchens or gardens, prisoners are gaining valuable work experience but they are also regularly assessed, enabling them to work towards formal qualifications in Food Preparation, Food Service, Food Hygiene and Horticulture.

“Today’s challenge is that there are more than 84,000 adults in prison in the UK and of those released, 46% return to prison within the first year. Also, 47% of prisoners say they have no qualifications, so supporting them to achieve this and increase their self-worth gives them the tools to break the cycle of crime and build a positive future for them and their families.” says Christopher Moore.

All prisoners who train with The Clink now follow a five step programme – Recruit, Train, Support, Employ, Mentor – a process which helps with training and securing employment. Even after release and gaining work, ex-offenders continue to be mentored by The Clink, ensuring rehabilitation is as painless as possible.

The great news is that thanks to The Clink’s efforts, re-offending rates of those involved with the programmes have reduced dramatically, down from 45% to 12.5% within the first year of release. In addition, more than 200 top employers, including Carluccios, Wahacca, The Lancaster London Hotel and Mosimann, are happy to take on The Clink graduates.

To top all of this, the quality of food and service from Clink restaurants has been lauded, with The Daily Telegraph praising waiting staff at HMP Brixton for striking “the right balance between friendliness and professionalism”, and The Standard referring to a chocolate and pear tart as “glorious”.

The Clink Restaurant Company continues to go from strength to strength. Looking toward the future, Christopher Moore says, “The plan moving forward is to continue to grow The Clink concept with the aim of having 20 prisoner training schemes in operation across the UK by 2020. We will be announcing the next three training projects over the next six months, so there are plenty of exciting things coming up.”

Congratulations to The Clink Restaurant Company on their well deserved win of the Ambassador of the Year award at our Caterer.com People Awards 2016.

Untapped gold: how to attract emerging talent

It’s hard to turn on the TV without seeing someone cooking. Whether it’s established chefs showcasing their skills or amateur cooks competing to see whose as yet undiscovered raw talent will win the day, the nation continues to be gripped by the preparation and consumption of food. But looking at the catering business as a whole, it’s clear that this continuous buzz doesn’t equate to enthusiastic new entrants into the industry.

Figures from the Employer Skills Survey 2015, produced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), for example, show that 47% of vacancies for chefs are difficult to recruit for – most noticeably in London (66%) and the South East (46%).

While many of the reasons behind this skills shortage remain unclear, it means that the marketplace for businesses trying to find new staff is competitive. And that means that employers should maximise their appeal to the most promising talent.

Employer brand

Attracting and retaining the highest quality candidates is crucial for any business, and employer branding is important in this process. According to recruitment specialist Hinton Spencer: “A strong employer brand is highly attractive to potential candidates, ultimately creating an enticing workplace environment and encouraging them to apply for roles. This is particularly important when considering the ever-shrinking talent pool.”

A strong employer brand suggests to candidates that they will know exactly what the company is like – and that applies to everything, from the company ethos and vision, to its goals and the value it places on its employees. It is important to portray the brand message throughout the recruitment process, ensuring that the process is streamlined and that it lives and breathes the brand values. There are many ways a company can build on these initial concepts – for example, by clearly promoting business and employee success.

The right fit

The People 1st State of the Nation Report 2013 showed that almost two-thirds of difficult-to-fill vacancies in the sector (65%) are because applicants don’t have the skills required. But, increasingly, businesses are finding a way round this by placing an emphasis on the cultural fit between their organisation and a candidate.

When a candidate comes along with all the right qualifications on their CV, there is still more that employers should consider, says business author and specialist Minda Zetlin. “What about the right personality? Ignore cultural fit at your peril, for your new hire likely won’t last long,” she adds.

For businesses to find people who are the right fit for them, job adverts should be clear about the kind of company it is, its ethos and values which make it stand out from the others in the sector. Including a sentence or two that captures the real personality of the company makes it stand out from other recruiters.

Once a company starts to build a team of employees that it can really invest in – and vice versa –  it is more likely to grow organically as a business. This dedication and experience will give it the edge over competitors who are basing their search on those with the requisite qualifications.

Training future stars

While initiatives like Springboard’s FutureChef seek to tackle the skills shortage by encouraging 11 to 16 year-olds to consider a career in the industry, employers can help to plug the skills gap by developing the staff available, right now.

When businesses provide opportunities for employees to upskill, it shows that the organisation is investing in their future and this goes a long way towards improving staff retention. It of course also benefits the company by the fact that the potential an employee demonstrates can be utilised at higher levels or in other parts of the business. The best outcome of upskilling employees is that the company could have its perfect candidate already working for them.

Strong individuals can be ready to leap at any moment – probably to a competitor – so clever organisations can maintain the edge over their competitors by facilitating their employees’ growth potential.

Creating the ambassadors of tomorrow

People often change jobs for new opportunities: a promotion, a change of direction, to work in a different area of the business or relocation. In a sector that has a lot of natural wastage, making sure that outgoing employees are positive about the company they’re leaving is key. The biggest mistake that employers can make is for relationships with former staff to end negatively.

When, though, outgoing employees speak well of their former places of employment they are helping with future recruitment for those companies because everyone they talk to could be a future employee.

Which just goes to prove that building on talent is a sure way forward for successful recruitment.

People like us: hiring for cultural fit


When it comes to your workforce, skills and qualifications are important but cultural fit is the glue that holds an organisation together and it’s a key element to consider when recruiting.

In fact, a recent survey of international employers found that more than 80% of managers said it was a top priority when hiring new staff [Global Human Trends 2015, Deloitte].

Good cultural fit leads to other positive outcomes. Employees who are a good match for your business can experience greater job satisfaction, be more committed to the role and deliver at a high level of productivity, and are more likely to stay with you.

But, like anything worth having, cultural fit isn’t necessarily easy to achieve, with an incredible 87% of organisations citing culture and engagement as one of the top challenges they face [Global Human Trends 2015, Deloitte], largely because a company’s culture is personal to each business; it’s less about policy and more about people. So how exactly do you go about ensuring that you attract, recruit and retain the people who will help bring your company culture to life?

The answer is to introduce them to your culture from the word go. That means showcasing your employer brand or values via your job adverts, as these are some of the first touch point prospective employees will have with you. First impressions count!

So what is your culture?

Management expert and Professor of Psychology Adrian Furnham succinctly defines cultural fit as, “Where there is congruence between the norms and values of the organisation and those of the person”. As it’s often difficult for people to understand the culture of their own businesses, it may be advisable to give yourself a refresher by:

  • Studying the culture: Observe the atmosphere of your place of work and the interactions between colleagues. As important as what’s seen during this process is what’s missing; what important elements (if any) appear to be absent?
  • Culture interviews: While the previous approach is somewhat passive, a more active approach may be to interview employees in small groups. This provides them with an opportunity to deliver feedback directly, as well as an invaluable chance to see how they interact and complement one another.

How to attract candidates that fit your culture

Many companies use job adverts as a one-dimensional laundry list of tasks and qualifications required, without taking the cultural fit of the candidate into consideration. But the job ad is the perfect place to showcase your company values and ‘DNA’, and “speak” directly to the kind of people you want to work with. Equally, candidates want to gain a sense throughout the recruitment process of who you are and what it’s like to work with you.  Keeping cultural fit in mind as you create your job advertising means it will appeal to the most relevant candidates for you in terms of attitude and aptitude. Overall, this will mean more applications from candidates whom you will want to interview – and hopefully hire.

The language of your job advert should reflect the “voice” of your company. If you see your enterprise as dynamic, then use big, bold words and phrases that embody that sense of excitement. If, however, it’s a small family-run outfit, then bringing that sense of warmth and informality to life is essential, as those are your unique selling points. If in doubt, returning to the company’s mission statement is a good place to start; and if the company doesn’t have one yet, then begin by asking yourself (and your teams) – what matters to us? Why do we do what we do here?

Communicating those core values through your job ad will go a long way to letting candidates see who you are and what you might be like to work for.

What to look for in CVs

It can be incredibly hard to ascertain cultural fit from CVs, but there are a few key points to look out for – as well as some red flags…

You can get a good idea of fit by looking at the places that a candidate has previously worked. Is it a well-known organisation? If so, does it have similar values to yours? If it’s not a particularly well-known company, having a look at their website will provide a useful insight into its culture. It’s a good idea to pay close attention to dates, too. A short stint at an organisation with similar values to yours might signal that the candidate didn’t slot in as seamlessly as both parties might have hoped.

As cultural fit is such an individual thing, looking at what candidates have listed as their hobbies and interests may provide a useful insight into what makes them tick – and what they can add to the dynamic of the business. Things to look out for include whether or not they play team sports, take part in charity work and have taken it upon themselves to take courses that deepen their understanding/skills.

Interviewing for cultural fit

Once you’ve shortlisted the candidates that on paper look to have the ingredients you’re looking for, it’s time to get them in to see how they showcase these qualities in person. The following questions/topics should help to determine whether the individual sat across the table (or at the other end of the phone line) has what it takes to fit in with a workplace’s culture:

  • Describe a working environment in which you were most productive and felt most positive.
  • Who was the best teacher or manager you ever had? What characteristics did they have that made them so good at what they did?
  • What would you say your three biggest expectations that you have of a line manager/senior staff?
  • How do you feel about being friends with colleagues?
  • How would you describe your ideal style of working?
  • How would your former colleagues describe their working relationship with you?

Team player?

Teamwork is the fuel in the engine of a business, so finding out about an individual’s ability to work with others is vital. Asking how someone performed as part of a team is probably too vague however you can ask questions that reveal a candidate’s ability to make room for the ideas of others. For example:

  • Describe a working situation in which you had to compromise.
  • How did you go about this?
  • What happened as a result?

While the first challenge will reveal the individual’s openness to new ways of thinking, the last question will showcase their ability to learn lessons based on the input of others.

Handling stress

Emotions are a good indication of an individual’s attitude and values, so being emotional about work isn’t necessarily a sign that someone doesn’t fit into a business’ culture, but how they harness their emotions may do. Whether an interviewee seems nervous or as cool as a cucumber, it’s a good idea to ask them about situations in which they’ve had to handle stress and, more importantly, how they dealt with it.

Questions should include:

  • What’s the most stressful situation you’ve ever had to deal with?
  • What did you do in the face of this situation, and why?
  • What was the outcome of your actions?

Asking this same question of candidates going for the same role will provide a very useful point of comparison in terms of who’ll best fit the environment being hired for.

Scenario-based questions

Scenario-based questions are an effective way to get a rounded idea of how a candidate thinks and provides an opportunity to tailor questions that are based on the culture of your company. Is the business a family-run café that’s particularly busy during morning periods? Ask questions that deal with how they’d deal with a sudden spike in customer numbers and what to do if, say, the coffee machine suddenly doesn’t work. Even if the hypothetical situation they’re questioned on isn’t something they’ve come up against before, the way they go about thinking what they would do in that situation will speak volumes about their intuitiveness and proactivity.

Why this is important

If the candidate’s answers to these questions are in tune with your company’s values, this could equal a dream employee and a loyal brand ambassador. That will make the business a more attractive place to work, which is important because, as a certain Mr Branson once said, it’s important to “create the kind of… workplace that will attract great talent. If you hire brilliant people, they will make work feel more like play.”


To find the right fit for your company search our CV database or advertise a job.

Waiters Day races are here!

Front of house professionals will be racing through London’s Hyde Park and other locations across the UK on Thursday 20th October.

National Waiters Day, led by The Springboard Charity and sponsored by Bunzl, aims to celebrate and showcase the dedication and hard work of front of house roles. Five waiters’ races are taking place across the UK as part of National Waiters Day. The flagship event takes place in London’s Hyde Park, while races are being held at Wivenhoe House (Colchester), Tameside College (Manchester), Linthwaite House (Cumbria) and The Grand (Eastbourne).

Fred Sirieix, General Manager at Galvin at Windows, said: “I am very proud and excited to lead the celebrations for National Waiters Day again on 20th October – it’s a truly wonderful day to celebrate the ocean of career opportunities within the hospitality industry, as well as the hard work of all front of house professionals. There has never been a more exciting time to both join and succeed in this very special industry. If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Anne Pierce, Springboard’s CEO, said: “National Waiters Day was created to showcase the range of roles available in front of house. It’s the ideal opportunity for jobseekers and businesses, with activities ranging from skills challenges to talks, and of course the Waiters Day Race!”

Entry to the race costs a £10 registration fee. The funds raised will help Springboard’s Food & Beverage (FAB) programme in schools, which are designed to encourage students to explore and consider careers in front of house, aligning with the curriculum.

For more information about National Waiters Day, click here.



Hospitality Employers Tackle Skills Shortage with Innovation

Boasting some of the finest restaurants and hotels in the world, the UK Hospitality sector is a global envy. The industry is one of the UK’s biggest employers, providing jobs to seven percent of the working population. Despite unsettled economic times, business continues to be strong, and the demand for skilled staff to sate the ever increasing demand is ongoing.

In this fast paced, ever changing business, companies must work hard to recruit the right people, develop their skills and retain their valuable experience. One of the biggest problems facing hospitality employers is an undoubted skills shortage. The reasons for this are varied, but the impact is absolute. According to recent research, if enough skilled staff are not recruited, the industry could be in crisis by 2020. Companies need to utilise inventive methods to attract the talent they so desperately need.

The finest initiatives in hospitality recruitment, retention and development were applauded on 12th October 2016, at the glittering Caterer.com People Awards. TV’s Stephen Mangan hosted the ceremony at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge which was attended by almost 500 industry professionals. The evening celebrated not just the hospitality industry, but the people within it.

Best practice by employers garners best results and the winners of these prestigious awards demonstrated determination and an understanding of the industry and the people they employ.

Luxury Hotel chain, Jumeirah won two awards, Rewards and Benefits Initiative and HR Team. The judges felt that Jumeirah exemplified the category by placing their employees at the heart of their approach to recruitment. Among their many initiatives, Jumeirah developed training sessions delivered through social media, with the aim of participants acting as ambassadors for the company in order to source potential candidates. In the past year, 13 appointments have been made through this programme, with four at management level.

The Launch Campaign award went to Hotel Gotham in Manchester. As part of the Bespoke Hotels group, this company’s clever use of social media attracted staff that perfectly fit the hotel culture. Hotel Gotham created a series of on-message videos, articulating the sophistication of the brand. The success of this strategy was immediate. They received over 800 applications within 24 hours and all key management positions are still in place a year on from launch.

Durham University’s Catering Department won the award for Leadership in Recruitment, Retention and Development. The department employs over 500 staff across 26 cafes, serving more than 500,000 meals every month. They also adopted a view of ‘Recruit for Personality, Train for Skill’. As part of their new approach, traditional interview techniques were replaced with an energetic ‘speed dating’ style process. Their initiatives were numerous and the work paid off with an increase in successful inductees, a reduction in staff turnover, 82% of induction feedback was scored as ‘Excellent’.

Another Caterer.com People Awards winner was the National Theatre on London’s South Bank. The NT’s In-House Recruitment Team developed a view that focused on diversity and the values of the National Theatre. They actively encouraged applications from those with learning difficulties and geared the entire recruitment process around the individual. They continue to work closely with Action on Disability and the National Theatre have recruited 12 staff through this programme.

Indian Street Food group Dishoom were winners of the Learning and Development category. Dishoom invite staff to participate in a unique week long boot camp in India, which immerses employees in their philosophy of selfless service. 98 members of staff were internally promoted last year after successfully completing training. Staff also become experts in Dishoom’s food culture, improving the customer experience, with guest feedback scores at between 91 and 94%.

The climax of the glamorous Caterer.com People Awards ceremony was the presentation of the Ambassador to the Industry Award to the team at The Clink Restaurant Company. Started in 2009, The Clink trains up to 160 prison learners per day and successfully builds confidence and communication and team working skills, helping offenders find employment upon release. With a comprehensive support and mentorship programme, results are clear; over 200 employers now feel confident in employing their graduates,  reoffending rates of those who have been part of the training programme has dramatically reduced within one year of release. This is a landmark achievement, not just for The Clink but also for the industry as a whole.

These amazing initiatives are testament to the dedication that hospitality employers have to their businesses and importantly, their staff. Caterer.com People Awards are the perfect opportunity for employers to not only celebrate their teams and their hard work but to share with each other what they have learned, enabling this amazing industry to grow.

The 2016 Caterer.com People Awards wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable help of its sponsors Fresh Montgomery, Admiral Recruitment, Cingo Video Interviewing, The Great Hospitality Show 2017, Part & Company, Core Recruitment, CateringScotland.com, Poda, HR in Hospitality and Nicholas Jon Recruitment.

To recruit the hospitality staff you need visit www.caterer.com

To find out more about the awards contact awards@caterer.com or click here.

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