5 Management Strategies for Seasonal Kitchen Staff Efficiency

By: David Mattichak – HospitalityHub Writer
01 December, 2014

Labour costs are the largest expense for most kitchens and for seasonal venues this can blow the budget very quickly during peak periods if staff are not managed efficiently.

Kitchens relying on strong seasonal peaks in trade (which makes engaging short term staff a necessary evil) can use a range of strategies to ensure they get the best value for money from these workers.

Maintain high standards

The first step in the successful management of seasonal staff is to hire the right people for the job.

There is always a temptation to hire the first people that apply just to be sure that there are enough bodies in the kitchen to handle the increased trade, but it is better to maintain the same level of selectivity that is applied to hiring regular staff. This ensures the kitchen has the best skill set available.

Select seasonal staff that are flexible

No matter how busy the peak season is overall, there are always unexpectedly slow periods when the full complement of staff will not be required.

During times like this it can be a gamble between sending staff home because it is quiet, or trying to keep them busy in case business suddenly picks up. This makes choosing staff that are able to fill a variety of roles in the kitchen a practical strategy.

Spend the time to train seasonal staff

Every kitchen is different and so it is vital to spend the time training seasonal staff in the processes that are individual to your kitchen.

Even though seasonal workers are only going to be in the kitchen for a limited time frame, the efforts made to train them for the specific roles that they will fill in the kitchen will make them more efficient and reduce the amount of time that is spent bringing them up to speed during the seasonal rush.

Spread the load fairly

Good teamwork is especially important in the kitchen during the busy season when the pressure on staff is at its peak.

It's essential to make sure workers' rosters are drawn up fairly so that regular staff and seasonal workers are treated equitably. Sharing weekends or holidays off while still giving everyone enough work can be a delicate balancing act, but it's an important step.

Address staff issues quickly

The peak season always puts workers under pressure, which can quickly escalate small disagreements or personality clashes into major problems.

Even though there is a temptation to let these issues slide until the end of the season it is better to deal with them quickly. Disruption to the morale of the kitchen is a problem to avoided at all costs. It is better to lose a poor worker in the middle of the season than it is to keep them on and have the problems continue to magnify over time.

The key to cost-effective use of seasonal staff is to remain flexible enough to be able to react to the fluctuations in trade that occur during even the busiest periods. Having practical strategies for managing short term staff ensures that the kitchen maintains the maximum productivity for the cost of seasonal wages.