Written on 29-Sep-2017
“A work life balance, what’s that?” is probably the response you’d get from most professional chefs.
Work/life balance is not a common phrase in professional kitchens, more of an urban myth.
Many chefs (reluctantly) accept that the long and unsociable hours is the ‘norm’ for their profession, and that as chefs they don’t get to go to family weddings like everyone else, or be able to attend their kid’s school play.
As an interim chef agency our chefs can choose when to work and when not to work. If they don’t want to work Christmas Day, then they don’t. If they don’t want to work on a certain weekend because of a family wedding, then we don’t book them on a job that falls then. They still have to work evenings/weekends, but they choose which ones, and get paid for every hour that they work.
For chefs who want to work less evenings and weekends, our ‘cooks’ team work with venues such as schools, hospitals and care homes, and this work tends to be more 9 – 5. This works better for some people who want to keep certain times free, or just want to slow down from the pace of a restaurant or hotel kitchen.
A word that is often used (and we have already used it) when talking about work-life balance, is ‘healthy’; a healthy work life balance. Now that is something that is so important for chefs.
A recent survey by Unite found that 51% of London chefs suffer from depression as a result of regularly working long hours, and 69% reported that their hours impact on their health.
We want to make sure that our CJUK chefs have all the support they need, which is why we offer the Hospitality Action Employee Assistance Programme, and we are the only agency to do so.
It can be such a tough industry, and many chefs have come to us with horror stories of working exceptionally long hours for no extra pay. But before we finish, it wouldn’t be right of us not to give a shout out to other people in the industry who are striving to support their chefs, and give them a better work life balance.
In May this year the Devonshire Arms hotel in Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire, increased the number of chefs in its restaurant to allow them to work a four-day week, and give a healthier working week for their chefs.
So bravo to them, and to everyone else in the hospitality and catering industry who support their staff by promoting wellbeing a work and a work life balance. It is really encouraging to see employers in the industry recognising the benefit.
If you are a chef and interested in hearing more about how we can provide a positive work life balance please contact our talent team on 01254 355666, and you can read about some of our chefs experiences here in our series of chef stories, nearly all of them talk about the work life balance.