Could shorter opening hours boost your staff wellbeing?

Feb, 07 2022
Could shorter opening hours boost your staff wellbeing?

With widespread remote working, talk of a four-day working week and a shift in emphasis to work-life balance and wellbeing, many restaurants and pubs are also opening fewer days of the week. Could a shorter working week help your staff to remain loyal and focused?

The benefits of opening fewer days of the week

When 24-hour licensing came in back in 2005, the tabloids and plenty of consumers were excitedly anticipating pubs and bars opening around the clock. Instead, what actually happened was that many hospitality businesses started being a bit pickier about when they would open. Instead of opening every night of the week and closing doors promptly at 11pm, they decided to open just Wednesday to Sunday, but staying open until the early hours at the weekends, for example. 

For many small business owners, the more flexible licensing hours were simply a green-light to finally open when they were actually going to get punters through the door. Now, as we emerge from two years of major disruption caused by Covid, many businesses are reviewing their opening hours once more. 

With staff shortages still a major problem, and customer numbers still down on pre-pandemic levels, being even more choosy about when to actually open makes perfect business sense. After all, is there any point in busting a gut to get staff in and stock your kitchen for the Monday lunchtime shift, or the Sunday evening shift, or whichever days are particularly quiet?

Staff are the new priority

A lesson that many of us learned over the pandemic is that, if you have a good team, you should do everything that needs to be done to keep them! Finding genuine, experienced and dependable staff isn’t easy. And employees expect more in terms of flexibility and work-life balance than ever before.

A great way to make sure you, as a manager, are attending to these concerns, is to give staff more choice over the shifts they work. Shorter working hours and providing flexibility creates a better working environment for staff who, let’s face it, can afford to be choosy about where they accept work right now. 

Prior to the pandemic, many hospitality workers in the foodservice sector were working such long hours that their home life was suffering. For some, their health was suffering and the sector, as a whole, was becoming an unappealing place to work. The solution? Reducing the emphasis on impossibly long working hours and, instead, taking a more flexible view to shift patterns and opening times.

Some business owners have realised that the technology they adopted during Covid, which continues to grow in popularity among consumers and restaurant owners alike, can help.  Technology such as digital menus and QR code-based ordering can take some of the pressure away from front-of-house teams and kitchens. Waiting staff are free to enjoy their shifts more, chatting to customers, helping with food preparation and ensuring everything is working like clockwork. 

Instead of viewing the challenges that face the hospitality industry as an insurmountable problem, why not start to look for solutions. Business owners all over the UK are now realising that the answers they are looking for are right in front of them. They just need to think flexibly and be open to changing the way things have always been done.