In partnership with CALIN & Bangor University
*The employment status of those working for a hospitality business can vary. For the purpose of this document, all those working in Llofft will be referred to in general terms as employees
Everything in this guide is a skill, and as with most skills they need to be practiced and refined. Accordingly, this guide is meant to be referred back to at any point to help develop these skills. Trust the process and you will see long-term results.
Some say that effective leaders are born and not made. This is not true; you can always learn how to lead more effectively. Below are some hints and tips to help employees feel valued in Llofft as feeling more valued often increases a sense of wellbeing.
At Llofft, the vision is: “Llofft will be the perfect place to relax with friends and family. Come and enjoy the best local food and drink in a welcoming Welsh atmosphere on the Menai Strait.”
To make sure the vision resonates with employees there are tactics you can utilise:
“It (Llofft) has been in family ownership since it was built. Different generations of this same family have run the sail loft, bakery and then restaurant before our family bought the premises.Like the previous one, our family has lived in the village for over 60 years. People, the connections between them, and the spirit of family is something key to extending to the LLOFFT team and customers; the values of belonging, togetherness, respect and looking after each other are core to the way we interact with everyone.”
– Elen ap Robert
Another key story central to Llofft’s vision is by Megan, who tells us how the Welsh language and the climate in which it was prioritised and encouraged helped her nurture a Welsh identity in a welcoming environment:
“Working in Pontio (Bangor University) was pivotal in helping to nurture my Welsh identity. The experience of being in an environment where the Welsh language was prioritised gave me the freedom to express ‘my Welsh side’ which I had always felt a lack in expressing and a longing to understand more. Within an encouraging environment, I could grow professionally and personally with a strengthened sense of pride for my culture. I found myself becoming more confident by the day and that my language was improving and feeling more natural to me. By hearing all the different Welsh accents spoken throughout the organisation it helped reaffirm that I was welcomed. I was getting to experience and enjoy watching Welsh culture thrive on stage, in music, and art, and feeling like we are contributing which develops a sense of pride and worth in our work. Remembering and learning new Welsh words/sayings and seeing my language improve was really enjoyable. The unexpected self-assurance in that I had no reason to feel shame in that my Welsh wasn’t good enough or wasn’t accurate, feeling safe to express myself and that my language is part of who I am. It is important to feel like you are enjoying being immersed and feeling welcomed.”
– Megan Forster
Developing and articulating the vision and goals means that employees feel a part of something as it provides that sense of belonging – a vital part in feeling valued. Knowing what they are a part of by using this skill is a sure-fire way of communicating that they belong and feel valued.
Leaders and managers should recognise that each team member has their own needs, motivations, and goals. Also consider the strengths and weaknesses of everyone and try to develop individuals in the team. Everyone brings something to the group, adding these into the mix can be a plus!
Encourage employees to ask questions (e.g., is there any particular part of the business they are interested in?) and make sure they know they can ask management when they need guidance. In doing so, you learn about your employees’ preferences (some may prefer to be left alone to work whilst others prefer to ask questions more regularly). Allocating your time and attention to the relevant employees shows them that you can treat them as indivduals. Again, this signals to them that you care about them, they feel they belong as a part of the Llofft family which will increase their wellbeing.
Asking employees questions and getting to know them is one way of building their wellbeing and happiness at Llofft. Another way to build wellbeing is to challenge individuals to consider new ways of doing things and to look at difficulties from different perspectives. Ask them questions if there is a particular situation which they need to problem-solve, get them to think of it from different perspectives, encourage them to consider the outcomes of different suggestions and ideas, and enable them to trust their instinct and ability. Encourage employees to consider the ‘what ifs?’ of situations and guide them towards a solution. For example, what will happen if we are short staffed, what roles can you cover, how will you spread the workload? By getting your staff to regularly engage with problem-solving for more stressful times of a shift, they will be more resilient to change which reduces their overall stress and anxiety during those periods. This is key to enhancing employee wellbeing.
Alongside encouraging problem solving, promoting knowledge-sharing is important to fostering employee wellbeing. This is achieved by sharing solutions with one another and highlighting ways that they’ve dealt with problems in the past, so others know what to do if they come across the same issue again. Also, it is essential to remind employees it is ok to not know an answer too. If someone does not know something encourage them to speak up instead of staying quiet. Reiterate that no one is an expert. You are all a part of a team trying to achieve the vision together.
Communicate the vision of Llofft by using personal stories and anecdotes.
Consider your employees as individuals – find out what motivates them, how do they fit in to Llofft’s story, and how can you support them?
Encourage problem-solving and share the knowledge amongst staff.
An important way to empower employees and build their self-confidence (vital to their wellbeing) is by providing feedback. You should be mindful of your approach to giving feedback as it can be destructive if done incorrectly. Below are some tips on how to offer feedback that will boost and maintain confidence.
Focus on the performance in question
Feedback should focus on the performance or specific behaviours (e.g., concentrate efforts on certain tasks) rather than an individual (e.g., their worth ethic, their values, or personality). Addressing the performance or behaviours means that you avoid breeding resentment and defensiveness that stems from feedback on someone’s character. Be explicit about the precise nature of the desired change too. Make sure both parties have clear expectations of what the goals are but also agree on ways of measuring goals (e.g., the number of tables served, the number of specials ordered etc.). Finally, focus on things they did well as much as they didn’t do well, it is important to keep feedback balanced.
Focus on the team
The feedback to the team should be just that – team-oriented. Managers should avoid providing feedback where they compare individual performances to another as this can create disagreements within the group. Make sure people know who the team is (i.e., front of house, kitchen staff, or Llofft as a whole) as it makes it clear to the team you are informing.
Place emphasis on the performance not the person. Focus on the good, not only what can improve.
Emphasise the team, not the individual.
No matter the attempts, disagreements will occur in the workplace. Building an awareness and mitigating against these disagreements can minimise stress which leads to better customer service, less staff sickness, and a happier workplace environment. If you manage them correctly, it can also help generate new ideas for Llofft going forward.
Disagreement types and strategies on how to deal with them
Disagreements between two or more team members may exist when they do not see eye-to-eye, there is a clash of personalities between the parties, or they do not agree with how the others act and react to decisions made in the team. Arguments and disagreements like this should be avoided as much as possible as they can cause further arguments and create a hostile environment.
Strategies for personal
Conflicts around personal disagreements are often difficult to deal with as they are emotionally charged. Leaders should encourage perspective-taking, whereby they get the parties to view the other’s side of the argument. Mediate these discussions and find some common ground. Formal training (e.g., inclusiveness or unconscious bias training,) or creative arts-based interventions can be used as a proactive solution to deal with personal conflicts as they promote understanding of individuality.
In other instances, there may be one individual who is particularly disruptive to the team, but they contribute good ideas. These individuals can be particularly tricky to deal with. One suggestion would be to accept their task-oriented contributions to the team and make efforts to focus on only that element of their behaviour. If this does not facilitate a better working environment, leaders may have to make the difficult decision to remove the individual from the team.
Outcomes of the group
These disagreements are about the team aims. They centre around the content of each task and the outcome for the team. In some instances, this type of conflict can boost team performance. However, it is for the managers and leaders to decide whether these disagreements are detrimental to the group or not, thus they should be considered carefully. For example, disagreements in Llofft can be around whether the main aim is to create a good customer service environment in the setting or is it about creating a functional team.
Strategies for disagreements around group outcomes
An important principle for managing these disagreements is open debate. Indeed, this is central in providing a safe space to discuss problems at any time. However, it may be necessary for team leaders to mediate and facilitate these discussions by providing the team with overarching rules. For example, making sure everyone is open and honest about their viewpoints, incorporating everyone’s ideas into dicussions, and reminding everyone that they can learn from one another. It may also be helpful to develop consensus around certain viewpoints and discussions by creating pros and cons, analysing the interpretation of others’ viewpoints, and allowing people to explain their viewpoint fully before making a group decision. As leaders, it is important to facilitate these discussions and make sure that everyone is aware that it is the ideas that are discussed and not the person proposing them. Arrange regular team meetings to resolve any issues that have not been picked up by management or to gather viewpoints on new changes in practice. It is important that open debate is given a time and place so bottled up frustrations are minimised. This proactive approach to resolving disagreement can contribute positively to employee wellbeing.
Roles and responsibilities
These types of disagreements are a mix of the previous two. They refer to the mechanics of going about certain tasks; the how as opposed to the what. Again, discussing and making sure the right person is assigned to the right role is important to individual’s and team wellbeing. However, when they become disagreements, they can often be experienced as an attack on someone’s personal competency, which can end up in a downward spiral of conflict and dysfunction. It may be difficult in an operation like Llofft to have clearly defined roles as it often relies on employees covering many roles throughout their day (e.g., waiting staff, coffee stall, bar etc.) but it is important to highlight the expectations of them in their role and their wider role within Llofft. Disagreements over responsibilities could be things like timekeeping (e.g., table covers or setting up bookings), or stock management (e.g., accuracy and taking deliveries).
Strategies for disagreements around roles and responsibilities
One strategy is to rotate roles and responsibilities between team members; this has two benefits, it may allow for some individuals to gain an appreciation of all the roles and their requirements, which can build empathy between individuals. Also, if some parties disagree with how the roles have been assigned then they are aware it is only for a short time and their concerns will have a natural end point. Another method would be to introduce a set of core responsibilities within Llofft (e.g., everyone is responsible for keeping Llofft clean, or say hello to every customer), and agree a set of responsibilities that are to be shared. This will make things less ambiguous and reduce the misunderstandings on roles and responsibilities in the workplace.
If disagreements continue, you will have to step in and assign responsibilities to employees. Consider assigning roles that suit employees’ strengths (e.g., assigning more extraverted individuals to waiting staff), this will often minimise disruption to your team and shift. It also keeps your employees happy as they feel valued in their role.
Personal disagreements are personality clashes. Encourage perspective-taking from each party.
Disagreements around the outcomes of the group can be positive if dealt with effectively. Encourage open debate, discuss the pros and cons of all ideas, and give everyone an equal voice.
Disagreements on roles and responsibilities can be mitigated by agreeing defined roles or rotating responsibilities between individuals.
Finally, at Llofft, fostering a sense of belonging is central to our vision as well as employee wellbeing. One way to foster the sense of belonging is through team building. This involves getting the team together outside of work to take part in non-work-related activities with the aim of building a social bond and promoting empathy between individuals. Below are some principles to consider when planning team building activities:
1. Avoid calling it team building – often this can make people feel on edge that they must become a team by the end of the exercise, it feels forced and artificial. Consider other titles such as “Away Days” or “Llofft Staff Break”.
2. Plan these in advance and have several events a year, it allows those who can’t make it to make a later event or helps integrate new members who join Llofft at different times. This also has the benefit of being proactive rather than reactive to a potentially poor work climate. Some employees could view an event that has only recently been planned as a reactionary activity which reduces their buy-in to team building.
3. Activities can be purely social (a day at the beach), task-oriented (such as the Great Strait Raft Run), or a blend of both!
4. Keep it fun! Activities shouldn’t feel like work.
This guide aims to facilitate employee wellbeing through several psychological skills. The take home message is that employees should feel their workplace values them as individuals. It is also important to realise that developing this will take time. However, by using (and re-using) this guide, you will be implementing evidence-based skills that are proven to develop employee wellbeing.
This guide has been written and designed in partnership with Dr Matt W. Boulter, Elen ap Robert, Megan Forster, Celtic Advanced Life Science Network @ Bangor University, and Dan Strello @ Strello Creative.