Training in 2021

Training in 2021

It’s been a strange year for everyone, particularly a lot of us in hospitality and every area of our businesses have been turned upside down by Covid. As we start to see some light at the end of the tunnel I thought it would be useful to share some thoughts on how training is changing and what we are doing in S4labour to adapt. 


With pure classroom training interventions becoming a thing of the past prior to the pandemic, more organisations were using a blended learning approach, not only because of the cost saving but also the time saved on traveling. The beauty of online learning is that it can be applied straight away, putting it into action as soon as you wave goodbye and find the exit button to the online room. We have always offered online launches at S4labour but it’s been almost a year since I stood at the front of a group of people and delivered our launch workshops or refresher sessions. Since the pandemic however, our online workshops for bigger teams have been a great success and our users have responded really well to implementing their systems into their business. Emily Grenville, Head of H.R. at Tossed said “it’s the most support we have been given by a supplier”.Jacques from the Big Smoke & Morgan Groups is also impressed, commenting “[our] launch was a great success and given the choice of face to face and remote I would choose remote again” 


The Rise Of Capabilities Over Skills

Back when I was in operations we always hired for attitude and trained for skill, it didn’t matter to me if they hadn’t done the job before, what mattered  was that they wanted to learn, wanted to push themselves and had the right attitude. I knew I could teach our service cycle, our menu, our cocktails and systems to anyone that wanted to learn. One of the shifts in focus L&D teams have had over the last couple of years is towards    capabilities rather than skills, with short sharp training interventions,providing learners with the ability to search for content and learn something in real time. This style of learning ensures individuals can learn in the flow of work tying in learning directly with the workers abilities to perform their jobs and to produce business outcomes. At S4labour we have strengthened our resource library so users can access content on any device when they are faced with a knowledge gap at any time. We have also made our training bitesize and loads to choose from: 15-minute online modules, 30 minute webinars and 1 hour one-to-one remote training and group workshops. We also engage with our customers to find their pain points and ensure we discuss the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ to use our software, taking our training further and deeper into the habits and behaviors that are needed by users to get success.


Learning in the flow of work 

One of the biggest frustrations learners tend to have in the workplace is the amount of time that is wasted, employees just want to get the work done and do it right. Just-in-time learning enables employees to improve efficiencies and gain new capabilities with hands on, just-in-time and just-for-me learning. Following our launches, each General Manager gets the ability to spend two one-to-one sessions with a system expert ensuring just that – it’s at the time they need it, it’s just for them and improves efficiencies and reduces the frustration that comes along with change. You’ve heard about HIIT workouts but what about relating that to workplace training, high intensity interval training, short sharp impactful interventions.  


Project based learning 

Posing a problem, or changing and allowing a team or individual to research and collaborate through  researching and discussion leads to a lot of learning. This reinforces capabilities and allows individuals to gain new skills. Motivation at work can be low at this time of year but add business closures into the mix along with furlough and teams could be left feeling very demotivated and uninspired. As a manager, having a few projects in mind to dish out is great for your team’s wellbeing too,allowing them to focus and get re-engaged. A phrase one of my Portuguse friends shared with me translates to “when we are not in war, we polish our guns”. This is what we have been doing at S4labour over the last few months, to ensure we give our customers and users the best onboarding experience possible when the industry opens up again. Suggested project topics could be related to service style, maintaining ‘hospitality’ in the masked environment, fun team bonding online sessions, inclusion and diversity or something as simple as create your own cocktail ideas. A lot of our customers are also taking this time to retrain/refresh their teams on S4labour and our free webinars were a great success to support this after the first lockdown. 


Emphasis on Communication and Collaboration Skills

More and more teams are now meeting in virtual and digital environments. Even after the pandemic this will remain the case. Something we have implemented in S4labour for our teams is a ‘Friday Huddle’ where we catch up socially, chat about our week over a cuppa and take it in turns to organise a quiz. We also share regular feedback and thank colleagues with praise and pass it on email. I recently took to the kitchen and posted out brownies to our team. We have been more deliberate with our communication because we are all working remotely. We are actually stronger as a team for it, something I’m sure will continue. department managers have been utilizing our Shift Success feature to share updates with us and the shift review function has been even more important to measure our teams happiness and wellbeing.


We have seen some amazing things our customers have been doing and are inspired by how passionate the sector is at supporting and training their people for success. It is such a win win, for the employee and the business. If you want to have a chat about training in your business, or think your teams would be more impactful with a bit of a refresher, then get in touch.

Top Tips for a Successful Dry January

After an indulgent festive period, many will aim to kick-start a healthier lifestyle and limit their alcohol intake for “Dry January”.

Studies estimate that over 4 million people plan to stop drinking for the first month of 2019. A cut back on spending and calories from customers makes it a difficult time of year for hospitality.

As businesses typically see a sharp decline in footfall and sales during January, offering discounts can be tempting solution. However, selling everything at a lower price can harm profits. Some operators will turn to alternative strategies to avoid those post-Christmas blues.


In response to Dry January, operators are embracing “Try January”, a campaign encouraging people to try new drinks and dishes this month. The aim is to challenge people to try different items on the menu, transforming this usually dreary month into something exciting. Providing visitors with new delicious choices for a limited time is a great way to bring in trade and gives customers something to look forward to.

Offer a variety of soft drinks

As people try to reduce their alcohol consumption, providing a wider selection of soft drinks can help prevent sales falling. Research suggests that more and more people are choosing soft drinks over alcoholic drinks, and not just at the start of the year. Mocktails are a great solution as they offer customers exciting tastes without losing the atmosphere that comes with drinking out.

Increase healthy menu items

After too many mince pies and pigs in blankets, people tend to make more health-conscious choices and this trend isn’t limited to January. Research indicates there is a shift towards healthier eating all year-round. Contributing to this movement is veganism, which has exploded in popularity in recent times. This upward trend presents an opportunity for menu experimentation, helping to keep meals fresh and exciting. People choosing where to eat as a group will be more attracted to menus that cater for everyone’s dietary needs. Increasing the number of vegan dishes, such as salads and other high yield items, can help boost profits throughout the year.

Focus on social media engagement

Studies have shown that people tend to avoid venues that lack an online presence. Making sure your website and social media pages are up to date is vital. You can post live videos on Facebook and Instagram to let customers know what you’re up to and highlight any special events or promotions taking place. Engaging with customers can help prevent a quiet January and showing off new products means people won’t want to miss out.

Encourage staff to upsell

As purse strings are tightened, it is important that staff are upselling where they can to drive sales. Implementing a reward scheme for the number of additional items sold with main dishes can be a good way to incentivise employees to go the extra mile. This will increase staff engagement and keep morale up, ensuring excellent customer service.

January is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate business strategies and internal processes. Exciting menu items and attractive events can bring in new visitors and keep regulars returning to discover something new. Expanding the menu to cater for a health-conscious market and upselling can boost January sales. Effective marketing and planning will ensure success for the rest of the year.


Get in touch today to find out more about how S4Labour can promote the health of your business in January and all your round.


Top Tips- Making the Most of the Festive Season

Christmas is the “most wonderful time of year” for hospitality. After quieter Autumn trading, the festive season brings a surge in demand and a chance to drive repeat custom.

The festive atmosphere marks an increase in footfall and a boost to profits. The best operators will exploit this further to maximise revenue in preceding months. Providing customers with exceptional service during December will promote the long-term health of their business. Here are our top tips to make this Christmas a roaring success.

Prepare in Advance All Year Round

Kitchens tend to run most efficiently on Christmas day. In anticipation of a high footfall and eagerness to get home to families, most of the meal preparation is done beforehand. This shortens the service length and keeps labour costs down. Customers benefit from reduced waiting times and staff experience less pressure during their shifts. It would make a huge difference to take this approach throughout the year.

Schedule to Match Demand

The festive period brings a unique pattern of high demand for sales and is the busiest time of year for hospitality. A large group booking will justify having additional team members on shift. However, if you know the party will only be on site for a few hours, there is little point having everyone working the whole day. To maximise revenues and staff productivity, stagger start and end times. This will reduce unnecessary labour spend and encourage flexible working. Staggering start times will make team members more receptive to a later than usual finish. A well organised rota will keep staff energised to provide high quality service and makes it easier for them to plan their festive activities.

Upsell Premium Products

Christmas is the time of year when customers want to celebrate and treat themselves. They are more willing to indulge in exciting drinks and festive desserts. This is the perfect occasion to upsell premium products. It is important staff are pushing high margin products in a way that highlights the variety of choices available. Emphasising a high-quality wine or specially selected dessert option is the simplest way to maximise spend per head. Failure to do so is a wasted opportunity and could potentially harm future profits too.

Make it a Memorable Experience

Focusing on high quality food and service is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom. As seen at the Propel Multi Club Conference this Autumn, exceptional food quality is the number one driver of people recommending a venue to family and friends. Christmas brings countless new people to pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality sites. This is the perfect opportunity to mitigate those January blues by converting these seldom-seen seasonals into year-round regulars. Making sure there are enough staff working will help to deliver a memorable experience that will keep customers returning long after the Christmas decorations are stashed away.

Reward Your Team!

Rewarding staff for working the festive period is crucial. Employees in hospitality sacrifice their own time with family and friends so guests can enjoy a special occasion. Plan an end of festive season event, such as drinks after a busy shift, to show staff how valued they are. It gives staff something to look forward to and appreciate words can have a huge impact on morale. Happy, motivated staff are much more likely to deliver exceptional service, earning valuable repeat custom into the spring and beyond.

The festive period is an excellent opportunity for hospitality businesses to enhance their reputation with customers and generate repeat custom in the following weeks and months.

S4Labour helps users schedule the optimal number of staff during busy periods. This allows its users to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business. Click here to find out more about the benefits of S4Labour.   

Our Advice for a Successful Christmas

The festive period is a bustling time of year for hospitality businesses. Within it lies an opportunity to impress your customers and boost your sales. Providing customers with exceptional service during December is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom during the following months. Here’s our advice on how to make this Christmas a roaring success.


By this stage, plans for the festive period will already be in place. With seasonal staff recruited, menus written, and bookings taken, operators must now consider how to implement their strategy as effectively as possible. Doing so will ensure sales opportunities are maximised, and customers are provided with excellent service.

Push Premium Products

Christmas and New Year’s celebrations provide the perfect opportunity to upsell premium products. With customers looking to indulge or celebrate in style, it is important to ensure your staff are pushing premium items such as champagne on arrival and top-shelf spirits after dinner.

In an increasingly health-conscious society, many customers will be looking for exciting soft drinks over the festive period. Findings from soft-drink producer Britvic showed 45% of consumers are set to buy more soft drinks during the festive season. A total of 37% also plan to spend more on soft drinks at Christmas than in previous years. You should ensure to accommodate for these guests, and premiumisation of soft drinks is a good way to do so. A premium offering of soft drinks will ensure that teetotallers, designated drivers, and people conscious of work the following day still feel as if they are treating themselves for a special occasion. Soft drinks are also typically high margin items, so now is a perfect time to spruce up your offer.

Communicate with your Staff

Alterations to rotas are inevitable during busy periods such as these. It is therefore important to communicate clearly with your staff, and keep them informed of any changes to their schedules. Increased demand during December means managers will need to delegate well and make staff aware of their additional workload and responsibilities. Regularly restocking fridges, wiping tables, and refilling ice buckets will lead to smooth service, and consequently enhance your customers’ experience. It is also important to recognise and praise staff for their extra effort during what can be an exhausting month. Thanking your staff for their hard work and treating them to an occasional drink after busy shifts will go a long way to keep morale high.

S4Labour issues notifications to alert staff to changes in the rota. Our HR Module also provides team members with access to an employee portal, allowing them to request holidays, and manage their own details thereby saving admin time. Find out more about the HR Module here.   

Communicate with your Customers

For many venues, communication with customers will already have taken place when taking bookings and pre-orders. Where possible, pre-ordering of food and even drinks is a great way to ensure your business gets stock levels right over the festive period. Advocating pre-ordering will also help the kitchen know what’s coming and prepare accordingly. The information taken from pre-orders should also be used to consider stock levels of sundry items such as candles, napkins and tablecloths. Pre-ordering will improve the efficiency of your front of house staff – with orders already taken, staff have more time available to help in other areas and upsell products. Encouraging pre-ordering will allow you to deliver volume effectively and provide better service.

Applying a minimum spend is a good way to guarantee you get value for your venue space, in a period where it is at a premium. Minimum spend requirements should be clearly communicated with customers prior to their booking to ensure there are no surprises during their visit. Communicating with your customers prior to events will lead to a smoother service and happier guests.

Capacity Engineering

Many venues will undergo a dramatic transformation during December. Using the available space wisely can be a great way to maximise sales. Ensuring you have enough tables and rearranging these to meet demand is one way of accommodating more bookings. You should also consider how you split your site by bookings. This, of course, depends on the nature of the venue – how do you give people private areas? How many tables do you have available, and how frequently do you turn them?

Consider your Trading Hours

Extending the trading hours of your business can allow you to capitalise on increased sales opportunities over the festive period, with customers wishing to continue seasonal celebrations late into the night. Arrangements for staff to work outside of normal trading hours will need to be made, and any council applications to extend licencing hours should be submitted in advance of key dates.


The festive period is an excellent opportunity for hospitality businesses to enhance their reputation with customers and generate repeat custom in the following weeks and months.

S4Labour helps users schedule the optimal number of staff during busy periods. This allows its users to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business. Click here to find out more about the benefits of S4Labour.   

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