The turbulence of the past 18 months has inalterably changed the world. The pandemic has fuelled fear, anxiety and chaos. In the process, it has forced operators to re-examine how they run their business, better determine what needs to change and reflect on how to move ahead to re-shape a better industry.
Clearly, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on what’s wrong with the industry. Through the past year, we’ve heard ad nauseum that the foodservice-and-hospitality industry is broken. Long hours, low pay and lack of benefits have been at the centre of many discussions. And, lockdowns have forced many employees to re-examine and re-consider their jobs and careers, with many opting to move into new industries and fields. While some may posit government programs such as CERB have kept employees at home instead of returning to work, the reality is that the exodus of hospitality workers is a challenge of epic proportions — and it’s forcing operators to dig deep within themselves to re-examine what’s really at play, and collectively re-set, re-store and re-shape the foodservice-and-hospitality landscape.
More than ever, today’s leaders are being put to the test, and the leadership styles they’ve embodied are being forced to morph and evolve to keep pace with the spurious rate of change we’ve come to expect in an increasingly chaotic world.
At its core, leadership starts with having a vision for success and relies on the ability to translate that vision into basic guiding principles and tenets. Leaders need to possess the uncanny ability to see where the business is going and clearly understand what needs to be done in order to get there. But the pandemic has also crystallized the harsh reality that the same-old-same-old just doesn’t cut it anymore – not only for businesses but also for leaders and employees alike.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that business models need to be shaken up and leadership styles need to evolve to be lockstep with the myriad changes the world is foisting on us. More creativity and inspired thinking are required from leaders. This will require leaders to become infinitely more committed to breaking down the various barriers that have held this industry back and to prioritize making their restaurants sustainable. It’s time to put an end to low pay and long hours, commit to move the needle on gender equity and diversity and inclusion, promote zero tolerance on sexual harassment, de-stigmatize mental health and devote increased time and energy to properly train and develop staff so they can grow and function as part of a cohesive team empowered to better build both the business and the brand. Anything less is just not good enough.
Written by Rosanna Caira