Opinion

Taking care of the people behind the supply chain

By Chris Gamm

- Last updated on GMT

Looking after the power behind the supply chain. Credit: Getty/timsa
Looking after the power behind the supply chain. Credit: Getty/timsa

Related tags Leadership labour shortage Training & recruitment

Chris Gamm, chief executive of hospitality charity, Springboard, discusses the importance of protecting your staff when it comes to fostering reliability through the supply chain.

An efficient supply chain management process requires reliable suppliers. This means they produce a product that meets the customer expectations and deliver it on time whether that’s in a restaurant, café or deli.

With rising costs of ingredients, labour and catering equipment in the last 12 months, there have been some business implications for those in the hospitality sector, all of which bring increased stress on the workload.

Supply chain stress impacts mental wellbeing

I recently attended a roundtable hosted by BRITA Professional, which looked into some of the biggest issues affecting the supply chain; its research found that price increases, which have impacted ingredients, labour and catering equipment, was putting huge strain and a negative impact on staff’s mental wellbeing.

Supporting mental health is one of the key barriers trainees of all ages at Springboard face. Pre-Covid, 11% of our trainees said they experienced mental health issues, but today this has increased to 27%. There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a fast-paced industry, with people having to work longer hours, exacerbated by a lack of staff. But it’s also a wider societal issue, fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis which adds further pressures on staff.

Businesses should have policies in place that prioritise mental health, and safeguard and uplift their wellbeing, while fostering supportive work culture and an environment where workers feel empowered to speak openly to their line manager about worries and stresses. At Springboard we have mental health first aiders, plus our team are trained in supporting the mental health of our beneficiaries, with top tips and techniques to share.

Reliable suppliers and adequate training

At the BRITA roundtable, we heard about how working with trusted suppliers and looking at what you can outsource can ease workloads for teams, such as a service BRITA offers called BRITA Managed Services.

Over-promoting managers is another factor (borne out of recent staff shortages) contributing to rising pressures, while also highlighting the importance of proper training.

Quickly promoting staff can have a negative effect on mental health as there is a generation of managers without knowledge that comes with experience. People are often launched into roles without proper training and education which can be overwhelming and stressful for all involved. Proper training is more important than ever.

Experience comes with leading teams, motivating people and dealing with situations first hand, and people pick up tips and tricks in the moment, passing them on from person to person. 

We need to approach recruitment with a fresh perspective

That said, recruitment is a challenge. Recruitment costs are a big issue, and the industry isn’t thinking differently enough about attracting staff and looking at different recruitment channels. Employers need to do more to appeal to those that face barriers and risk getting left behind.  Springboard trainees may need additional support at the beginning, but they are loyal, hard-working and motivated.

Of the more than 3,400 people we trained last year, 74% are still in work after 12 months, significantly higher than the industry average. Employers must carve out a bit of time to find the right role for those with barriers and train your managers on how to best work with them.

And there are other groups that can play a vital role in your workforce if you’re willing to think differently about working patterns, such as parents to cover your lunch shifts, students at weekends or evenings, older workers brining a wealth of experience, and anyone looking to work flexi-time and shorter shifts to suit their lifestyles or earn some extra money to cover their rising bills.

BRITA’s research also found when costs and staffing are under pressure, initiatives considered ‘nice to have’ can be dropped. But we need to invest in the future, now. We need to be making time to get out to schools, telling the story of our fantastic careers and nurturing the next generation. People who are in their teens now are your future workers.

Training your staff right, prioritising wellbeing and thinking differently about the challenges you face can foster reliability through the supply chain, which ultimately allows us to tackle the recruitment issue the sector faces. 

Related topics People & Skills Supply Chain

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