Written on 01-Nov-2017
Recently, an article Agency Chefs: Kitchen Heroes or Mercenary Zeros? appeared in the 20th October 2017 issue of Big Hospitality regarding the rise of the agency chef. Since CJUK are a recruitment agency specialising in temporary chef recruitment, we speak to hundreds of culinary experts every week who are choosing the short-term contract option for a variety of reasons. Likewise, businesses are choosing to embrace agency chefs, but have completely different motives for doing so.
However, more light needs to be shed on this industry shift which I feel compelled to address. The acknowledgement that there is a general trend to flexible, interim, contractor and freelancer work across all sectors of the UK was overlooked. Plus, the shortage of full-time chefs due to an ageing population, a dramatic rise in the number of hospitality establishments and overall high industry employment rate has meant increased control over how chefs choose to work.
This, combined with a notoriously difficult industry to work in (long and antisocial hours, low pay, lack of flexibility), means that more chefs prefer agency work as they are paid for every single hour they work and have more control over their work-life balance.
Hospitality employers can combat this trend by adopting a holistic approach that addresses each pain point. Improving the employee experience for chefs by offering better pay, working conditions, better employee engagement and more flexibility is paramount. Yet I speak to a lot of employers who are in apparent denial about this reality and dream of going back to the days when they could have a permanent brigade of chefs working 60 – 80 hours per week, doing split shifts with very little work-life balance at a considerably lower wage. Let’s face it…in 2017 there’s far too much competition, and chefs are overwhelmingly choosing the agency chef model over other hospitality employers. And who could blame them?
To that end, CJUK leads the industry by offering these desired working conditions to our temporary chefs such as highly desirable hourly pay, shift flexibility, company event contracts, uniforms, employee assistance programmes in collaboration with Hospitality Action and much more. We are taking the lead in what needs to be done to keep chefs from leaving the hospitality industry entirely.
The average industry staff turnover rate is a staggering 75% according to People First. However, CJUK’s turnover rate is only 20% which is a testament to how well our model works. All candidates are temporary workers and can choose to leave at any time, but job satisfaction remains high which results in longer tenure overall.
CJUK are passionate about keeping chefs in the industry, and we feel adapting to embrace the shift towards more flexible working is key to keeping kitchens fully staffed.
Director of Sales & Operations