Running a hospitality business is no walk in the park. You might have to work long hours on weekends, stick to the budgets, keep on top of payroll and general admin task, and last but not least, hire and retain the right staff.

In a customer-facing environment like a restaurant or a cafe, your employees will make a lot of contribution to your brand image - "The bartenders at XYZ restaurant are really entertaining," or "The waiters at ABC cafe are rude."

Sometimes, it's really hard to keep tabs on your staff. You might only find out what they have done when you read those angry reviews about your business on Google.

Rest assured, our Ultimate Guide to Handling Hospo Staff has got just what you need to ensure that you hire, train and retain the 'right' staff. So without further ado, let's jump straight into it.


1. Hiring the right staff

2. Keeping your staff motivated

3. Training Your Staff


1. Hiring the right staff


When it comes to hiring hospo staff, you can either post an ad on a job-search website, or you can think outside the box and get a little creative.

Here are a few tips for hiring hospitality staff:

  • Offer incentives to your staff for helping you with recruitment

You hired your staff because you had faith in their skills. Now, it's time for you to let them bring some more talented people like them on board. One good way of making sure you grow your team with like-minded individuals is to offer incentives to their employees for giving referrals for job vacancies to their friends or family.

  • Leverage Facebook groups

Some Facebook groups are solely dedicated to hospitality recruitment. This does the trick when you urgently need casual staff on short notice. For example, you can search for 'Auckland hospo jobs group' in the search bar and join some relevant groups - the trick is to stick to your region. These groups can be a lifesaver when your staff calls in sick at the last moment, or you when you unexpectedly require extra staff.

  • Use recruitment agencies

If you're willing to invest, several recruitment agencies can provide you with pre-screened on-demand staff. Which means you don't have to worry about the reference check or fake CVs - they'll handle it for you.

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2. Keeping your staff motivated


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It's not uncommon for hospo employees to feel like their career has reached a dead end. But think about it this way, your staff are constantly interacting with your customers and if they're unhappy, they'll transfer this negativity onto your customers.

That's why it's important that you keep your staff motivated and happy. Let's find out how to do that the right way.

Here's are a few tips to keep your staff motivated:

  • Offer career advancement

If you're in charge of a hospo business, one of your biggest headaches is staff turnover. It's so hard to hold on to good employees. But if you get down to the nitty-gritty of this, you'll find that they left for a "better" job.

"One of the primary reasons why a lot of hotel employees resign is because they feel stuck, that they’re not growing or evolving in their jobs."

-Rupesh Patel, Founder,

For hardworking employees, being stuck in a job that's not taking them anywhere is frightening. If you want to hold on to the best ones, offer them career advancement options and if you can't, at least give them the guidance they need to thrive in the dynamic hospo industry.

  • Encourage good behaviour, discourage bad behaviour

As well as constantly interacting with your customers, to get the job done right your staff also have to interact with each other.

There will be miscommunications, power plays, tantrums along with a lot of laughter and fun. Which is why you should create an environment in which the staff has compassion and respect for each other.

The last thing you want in your hospo business is team members holding grudges against each other or showing unreasonable behaviour towards a particular employee. Control any such events before they turn serious because sometimes, it can cost you a lot.

  • Make casual employees feel included

Running a hospo business in New Zealand means you'll have to hire a lot of casual staff; some of them are likely to be foreigners on a work visa. This is where 'building a community' comes into play.

Don't make them feel like they're working alongside a bunch of strangers. Break the ice by organising a small, 15-minute catch-up in which team members can introduce themselves to each other and maybe share something interesting about them in a sentence or two. This is a simple way to give them an opportunity to forge a relationship and build a team before it's show time.

  • Reward them when they exceed your expectations

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word 'reward'? If your answer is money, then you're just scratching the surface.

Even a simple 'thank you' can be rewarding sometimes. Obviously, a financial bonus would be spot on, but there are some other non-financial incentives like gift vouchers, movie tickets, or even a one-on-one lunch to express your gratitude towards their hard work and commitment.

Read more about how to keep your staff motivated in our blog: 5 Tips to Keep Hospitality Staff Motivated.

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3. Training Your Staff

Hospo employee motivation

You can motivate your staff as much as you want, but if they're not well-trained, they might feel overwhelmed at work. Working in hospitality should be fun, not daunting.

You don't want your staff to approach your customers with that 'I don't know what I'm doing' look on their face. The only way to mitigate this problem is to train them well.

Here's how you can train your hospitality staff:

  • Make sure all the new employees go through an orientation

Imagine this, it's your first day at work; you don't even know where the bathroom is yet, but you're expected to know exactly where everything is, every item on the menu, and how each regular takes their coffee. How would you feel? Frustrated, right?,

Don't expect your new employees to know everything from the get-go even though they had an outstanding CV. There's nothing wrong in baby stepping them initially, especially during their first week.

That's why a buddy system, short introductory programme or an orientation can be very helpful. 

  • Teach them what they didn't learn in school

Soft skills are at the heart of any hospitality business. Whether it's empathy, sense of humour or impulse control, there are some skills that your staff can only acquire through practical learning.

Let's take conflict resolution as an example; you might want to show your staff how to deal with a difficult customer by leading the situation and having them stand next to you. That way, they'll know how to handle it themselves when you're not around.

  • Provide them with 21st Century training

"I love memorising the names of every item on the menu," said no hospo employee ever. Well, they don't have to. You can use technology to gamify their experience by introducing a quiz. Check out this example:

Which of the following items is not vegan?

a) Crispy Tofu Salad b) King-size Veggie Ciabatta c) Garlic bread d) Seasoned Chips

As you know, garlic bread contains butter, which is not vegan. If they select the wrong answer, make sure they know what the correct answer it at the end along with the reason.

This approach is far better than having them memorise stuff, half of which they might forget within the first hour. Gamification is not only fun, but it also helps with retaining new information.

  • Train staff on new tools

Technology keeps on evolving and new tools are introduced from time to time. Just a decade ago, waiters had to write down the order on a piece of paper, but now we have handheld POS systems that only require a few taps on the screen and voila!

Although it's convenient in the long-run, it can be difficult to learn a new tool sometimes. If your staff are not trained to use their tools correctly, they might make mistakes - some of which can harm your bank balance.

Learn more on how to train staff on new tools in detail in our blog: 5 Smart Tips to train staff on new tools.

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Thanks for reading our Ultimate Guide to Handling Hospo Staff. Use these tips to get hold of the best candidates and keep them, after all, your employees are the face of your business.