The importance of team-building in hospitality
By Duncan Campbell
May 5th, 2020
Ah, the age-old relationship woes between FOH and BOH hospitality teams. After Covid-19 lockdown ends, venues will have a unique opportunity to forge new relationships between staff that were seemingly impossible in the past.

While most countries don’t have a date for reopening bars and restaurants post-COVID 19 lockdown, we’ve had an influx of new venue clients setting themselves up to succeed in re-opening, re-hiring and re-training staff.

One element to smooth operations that is often overlooked is team cohesion. Does your team resemble the cast in the movie “Waiting”? Yeah, you’ve got some work to do. Keeping the peace between FOH and BOH is no easy feat, and rifts are commonplace – stress, lack of respect for the other side of the “house” – the list goes on as to why staff don’t get along.

Given that your brand relies on the team to work as a well-oiled machine, team-building and bonding sessions are paramount to smooth operations.

4 Principle Benefits of Team-Building in Hospitality

1. Staff turnover

Ever known someone to stay in a job when they loathe their co-workers? Nor have we. Team-building helps increase a sense of belonging and loyalty. Given that hospitality staff turnover is upwards of 70% per year and the cost of replacement is over USD2,000 per hire (admin, training, lower productivity of new hire), we say team-building is a non-negotiable part of lowering staff turnover.

2. Staff motivation

People generally start a career in hospitality for the lifestyle (or to put themselves through higher education). If you’re like me, it was a bit of both. So, work needs to be enjoyable, and a significant contributing factor is getting along with your workmates. Happy staff = motivated staff = generally satisfied guests. Focus team-building on team work and collaboration, and make sure the senior staff are onboard – seeing them pitch in will motivate the newcomers and set the bar high.

3. Overall productivity

A cohesive team have each other’s backs, and communicate effectively. Building trust in the team increases productivity and output. And when it’s five-deep at the bar and you’re in the weeds, you want your team running on 110% output.

4. Guest satisfaction

Guest satisfaction is inadvertently affected by the above three benefits. Lower staff turnover = more knowledgeable staff, and higher team motivation / productivity results in a better service experience, increased spend per head and repeat custom.

Building the Foundation for a Solid Team

Post-covid, managers will be hiring fresh teams, while established staff will be hoping that work life feels different. Normal, yes – but better. This is the chance for managers to build positive relationships from the outset.

But building the dream team doesn’t come easy. There is a reason that the most coveted awards in hospitality relate to the team (ie Best Bar Team). Along with service awards, winning team awards is like taking game seven of the World Series (for non-baseball fans, that’s a big deal).

Management therefore needs to play an active role. Some team members will bond naturally (the contra deals between bar and kitchen staff seem to help), while most will need some help and encouragement. This could be through organised events, or the infamous knock-off drink – please don’t discount just how important the knock-off is to team bonding.

Want some ideas on team-building activities that go beyond the norms of the knock-off? Check out this article by Quiz Breakers. And, of course, never forget the value of training in keeping staff (old and new) motivated.