As someone that has been in hospitality since the age of 15, and now 25, I have had some years to reflect upon what I have chosen to do to fill my days. Not as much as some though, that is clear.
My question, along with one many share, is, why are we in this labour crisis?
Is there a systemic issue in the industry that goes beyond the concerns surrounding benefits, hours, pay and work/ “life” balance? (I am not saying these points are not valid; I am looking very objectively.)
I have been thinking about this over and over as COVID has clearly put us in staffing crunch , especially in the hospitality industry. But through deep pondering nights, I ask myself, if in doing so, are we fostering a sense of victimhood mentality along with ‘starving artist’? We continue to acknowledge some factors which have almost become synonymous with what our industry is.
This is not much of a blog post, but I am hoping that perhaps one cook reads this and is tempted to ask themselves the questions outlined below.
Have you asked yourself, as a cook, why you have not received the hours, pay, and benefits you desire? Do you even know what YOU want? Or are you blaming the industry?
(It is very okay to not know what you desire, by the way.)
Are we becoming too outcome orientated as a generation? Continually looking for a feather in our cap to boost the unsustainable ‘ego’? How is social media affecting the “ego” vs “you”? Ask yourself and notice the algorithms of online platforms and how they impair your opinion. Do you look elsewhere before listening to your heart?
Is cautious leadership lacking in our industry? Do our culinary institutions and establishments have good instructors and chefs? If so, why, or why not?
Are we fostering a clear sense of purpose, care, and adequate pay to our staff members?
(This is not minimum wage, no; but certainly not some of the astronomical wages that I have seen being offered in desperation currently.)
Have you observed age and ethnic background trends in the land of cooks? Have you noticed patterns in different establishments? Why is that cook you are working with an engineer in their country- but a cook in ours? This is a multicultural issue that is a huge conversation we are too timid to bring up.
Are our education systems promoting lack of confidence in cooks? (Confident humility that is.)
At the policy level, what is our role? Does this impact our sense of purpose?
What is capitalism? How can it influence policy and our industry?
The “work-life” balance argument often comes up often with the long hours required at times.
Firstly, what is life to you? (That’s a bigger question…)
Why has this become the norm of ‘happiness’? Do you think big tech companies are working 44 hours a week? No. Cooks are not the only ones.
We are, as all industries are, facing issues, and perhaps, I, need to investigate other industries to have a more objective view on them. What I feel strongly though, is that we are in positions to adapt and need to do so. There are bigger conversations that need to occur that will affect that 14-year-old who is deciding what they want to do with their life.
And that, is not an ego-driven career choice, as it is quickly becoming. The narrative needs some work.
I hope you have a nice day and smell the flowers or stop to pet a cat.