A restaurant manager briefs her front of house and back of house staff before service

How can we help our teams find more balance?

From my experience in the kitchen, I saw some of the consequences chefs face from the lack of balance in the cheflife:

— the unravelling of personal relationships

— burnout

— chronic stress leading to physical or mental health issues

— substance abuse as a coping mechanism to deal with stress

My research revealed that this was not simply a result of their gruelling work schedules or the lack of free time: many chefs struggle to unwind even on their days off. Some choose extreme measures when those consequences get out of hand: quitting their brigades, choosing less demanding jobs for which they are overqualified or leaving the industry altogether.  The Centre for London in their recent report found work-life balance to be one of the biggest factors affecting retention in kitchens. And a survey conducted by Fine Dining Lovers revealed work-life balance to be as much of a challenge to senior leadership as it is to the rest of the team.

This is a scenario that we can no longer afford to ignore as an industry.

How can workshops on work-life balance help?

Our culture teaches us how to serve, but it does not address how to condition ourselves for that service. Our craft – whether it’s cooking, preparing drinks or serving – has become more complex over the years. Internally, we are challenged with a staff and skills shortage, while externally, we face increased competition and more demanding customers. Given that the nature of our work will not change overnight, we have to take a pragmatic approach to solving the problem.

The #BetterCheflife workshops are founded on the principle that finding balance is a question of professionalism – just like professional athletes condition themselves for their sport, chefs are encouraged to condition themselves for their service each day.

Rather than trying to strike a balance between their careers and other aspects of their lives, Love Letters to Chefs teaches chefs to see how these two aspects influence and impact each other. Not only will this affect how they show up to every shift, but having a framework that shows them how they can bring balance to their lives will also ensure that they enjoy long, sustainable careers.

Two chefs chat as they work in a restaurant kitchen

Work-life balance workshops in your restaurant

Love Letters to Chefs offers both on-site and online workshops on work-life balance. These trainings are designed to raise awareness of simple actions that your employees can take, even while working on a busy schedule. We also look at the bigger picture – how work-life balance is impacted by the team culture and how you can support your staff better.

Although as a former pastry chef Ishwariya examines the issue through the lens of our kitchen culture, the teachings are seen to be valuable for the entire team – the challenge chefs face is universal to all sections of the restaurant. 

The series comprises two workshops:

1. Work-life balance in Hospitality – 1 hour – £150

How hospitality professionals can find more balance in their lives 

(Audience: The entire team: BOH and FOH)

2. Work-life balance for leaders – 1 hour – £300* 

Themes addressed include:

— Culture & Environments

— Personal mastery 

(Audience: Leadership, emerging leaders)

*(Please note that this talk is delivered only in combination with Workshop 1.)

(Workshops are currently delivered only on Mondays. Travel expenses will be added to the costs for in-person workshops outside London.)

What benefits do they offer?

Start where you are the workshops show Hospitality professionals how to start where they are, even without a flexible schedule

They do not impose any practices on team members – the teaching is designed to help them realign with what works for them

The advice offered is not generic – the content is created and delivered by someone who understands the industry and our culture

The workshops address practices you can implement as a team, and what leaders can do to positively impact employee morale, productivity and retention rates

“It has helped me go back to the basis of what got me to where I am in the first place. It helped me to see how far I’ve come and that I can get through whatever I’m going through” – George P., London

Invite Ishwariya to deliver the workshops

To book a workshop, make enquiries or to request a bespoke workshop for your team, please send an email.