Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2017

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 83 of 115

BARISTA WORK IS CHALLENGING, skilled labor. Customer-service work might come naturally to many, but learning the intricacies of making consistently excellent coffee while multitasking and balancing the varied demands of a café takes time and money. Since barista work can be both fi nancially and emotionally strenuous, café turnover is often high, and any amount of turnover is costly. While café owners might think higher pay and expensive benefi ts are the only tactics for avoiding barista turnover, and the importance of those subsidies can't be overstated, there are lots of fun ways to improve barista retention without spending more money than you're losing through turn- over. Further, these 10 retention strategies will also benefi t your café culture and make baristas happier in general, leading to better service and improved lives. Like all humans, baristas need to be able to place work in a larger context of their overall lives and have some consistency in order to be happy and healthy. It's important to schedule baristas for con- sistent times of day based on their preferenc- es and skill sets. This allows them to develop regular sleeping and eating habits, which contribute to overall health and wellness as well as positivity. Ideally, cafés should divide shifts based on preference, and primarily as- sign closers closes, openers opens, and folks who prefer middays, middays, allowing them to play to their strengths. "Being a great manager means being in touch with your coworkers," says Steve Cuevas, head roaster and veteran barista at Black Oak Coffee Roasters in Ukiah, Calif. "You need to place them where they work the best. Get to know them, so you can learn to staff them." A great way to make this feasible from a tip stand- point is to pool tips and divide them based on hours worked per employee, handing out the tips from the previous day every day. As much as possible, give baristas a stand- ing schedule and let them know in advance if a week will deviate. If you're fully staffed and able to do so, always get schedules out at least two weeks in advance, even if this means lengthening the requirement for how far in advance people need to request time off. While many baristas need to work the weekends because of increased customer traffi c, giving them the same two consecutive days off every week allows a real "weekend" for trips, recovery, and living life. "Everyone loves knowing at least two weeks in advance what their schedule will look like, so they can plan their lives around work," says Steve. These moves toward schedule consisten- cy are challenging to set up, but in terms of cost, they can save money by not only increasing retention but also consistency and work quality. , Have regular reviews where you give feedback to employees, as well as regular check-ins, where employees are free to discuss problems and challenges they might be facing. Since employee reviews are often tied to raises, make check-ins separate so that those potential raises don't affect honest feedback, which is essential to improving your business. To keep the fl ow open and not confi ned to specifi c high-pressure situations, try adding a designated forum for employees to express ideas or concerns, whether it be a particular email address, a Slack group, or even an anonymous employee suggestion box. "The more transparency and dialogue managers and owners give their staff, the happier the staff will be and longer they'll stay with your company," says Ellan Kline, retail trainer and former barista and roaster at Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco. Collecting this feedback is important, as is listening with an open mind even if you disagree or don't feel you can help. As Ellan says, "Even if there's no obvious solu- tion, you can still show workers that you hear them and appreciate their feedback." If staffers can influence their environment and make meaningful change, they'll be personally invested and more likely to stay with the company. Even the most relaxed cafés need clear, writ- ten service policies to help prevent confusion and confl ict between staff and customers. These policies will help baristas handle inap- propriate behavior from customers and set up healthy boundaries apart from the "customer is always right" culture that can toxify service spaces and lead to burnout and turnover in even the best workers. Clear policies let everyone know what's expected of them and what isn't, and fair implementation of these policies will help both workers and managers feel empowered and be their best profession- al selves. "There needs to be good foundation and ground rules," says Steve. "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should." Elle Taylor, owner of Amethyst Coffee in Denver, promotes a clearly outlined service policy, where "kindness and a welcoming na- ture come fi rst and foremost, but if someone crosses a personal boundary we are all more than welcome to address it with them. I need to hear about the incident as soon as possible, and we really haven't had any issues with the conduct of our staff in these moments." Elle placing trust in her baristas has empowered them to handle breaches in customer conduct Hiring costs Want ads/job postings Interview costs (time and paperwork) Background checks Referral bonuses Intake costs (enrollment into benefi ts and payroll system) Training costs Training time Training materials (manuals, coffee, milk) Lapses or mistakes in service leading to refunds and lost customers Lowered productivity of trainee and surrounding employees during training period Morale costs Other employees have to carry more work for the same pay when tenured staff leave and trainees learn Sometimes employees don't leave under the best terms, and that can hinder morale Here are just some of the factors that make turnover so expensive: 84 barista magazine

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