Human resource problems

Little chef is Britain’s largest roadside restaurant chain with 300 outlets and the largest Burger king franchise with 100 outlets nationwide. Little chef is part of Travel rest service Ltd, a company backed by Permira investment managers. The majority of the restaurants are situated on major UK A-roads, in Moto service stations and Welcome Break Service areas. In this project im going to be looking at human resource problems they currently face at a particular little chef restaurant located in Royston.

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I will be evaluating the staff training and development within that unit as well as looking at ways in which the unit could improve its staff training and development in order to achieve their objectives. In order to achieve this, I will conduct primary and secondary research based on the little chef restaurant. The primary research will be carried out in the form of questionnaires and interviews with the workforce from the Little Chef unit itself. The secondary research will be conducted through books, Internet and published articles.

Once I have conducted my research and analysed the results I will then be able to make some proposals of how the problem they currently face can be overcome. The Problem(s) The Little Chef restaurant in Royston is currently faced with two problems, the major one being a high labour turnover rate. This has resulted in another problem of staff shortages that has meant the quality of the service could deteriorated due to a lack of human resource which may cause a loss of customers thus a decrease in sales figures, however this has not happened yet.

In my project I am mainly going to focus on the labour turnover problem, which I feel is the cause of all the problems. While conducting my research on the restaurant, I found out that the restaurant had a labour turnover rate of 22% in 2002, alone which is way above the acceptable figure of 15% according to the AAFP (American Academy Of Family Physicians). The problem may be costing the restaurant a lot more than they think for example through training costs.

The results of the questionnaire were linked with other data in the context of performance indicators using them as a basis for comparison in which they say a lot about the success of a firm’s human resource management. They are particularly useful in 3 areas: Comparisons over time: The results could have been used to compare them with past figures over the last few years such as labour turnover rates. In this case the labour turnover was 22% for 2002 but we do not know the labour turnover rate for the last few years therefore we do not know whether the turnover rate has improved.

Benchmarking: Another important use of the results could be using them to compare them with benchmarks. Benchmarking is a management tool, which helps companies improve their performance. It involves comparing aspects of business performance with those of other companies. The purpose is to identify the best achievements, for example staff turnover rate. The business will then change some or all of its practices in order to try to match the best company. (Ian Marcouse, 1999).

For example Little Chef could compare itself with a similar sized restaurant such as the local Chinese restaurant (Mulan), which has been fairly successful. Through this process they may compare their figures with those of the Chinese restaurant to find out a number things such as; whether their labour turnover was better or worse than that of their competitor? Whether their standard is higher or lower than that of their competitors? A basis for target setting: The final use for the results is for setting targets.

The company may have views on what the acceptable levels of personnel performance should be. The indicators can then be used as a basis for target setting and, in retrospect, for evaluating performance. (Ian Swift). By undertaking such comparisons it is possible to form judgements about the performance of a company. However they will remain fairly simplistic if left to stand-alone. My primary research was conducted in the form of an interview in which each member of staff at the restaurant completed a questionnaire. (Appendix1).

This included a range of workers with various job titles, from team workers to managers. The interviews were conducted on the work premises each lasting approximately 5 minutes. This method of research has drawbacks such as cost and carries a risk of being bias, for example a bubbly interviewer may generate more positive responses, which may result in inaccurate results. However this method has clear benefits, which include a high response rate and the assurance that the interviewer will be able to help explain an unclear question, which was the case with one of the questions on my questionnaire.

Some of the interviewees did not know what I meant by Little Chef’s objectives, which I then explained to them; this is an important factor, which could have affected my results. I could also have used a self-completion questionnaire or an observational method of research to conduct my primary research. From my questionnaire I found that there was a variation in the responses of the workers within different rankings of the hierarchy.

From my interviews I found out that nearly 75% of the workforce had not been working at this restaurant for more than 4 years, which just proves the company has a high labour turnover, which is one of the problems costing the company lots of money. (Appendix2). The overall training within the company is good with the majority being conducted internally, which means the company will benefit from fewer absentees and therefore no problems of staff shortages. The workers appeared to be satisfied with their positions within the company as a result they did not suffer from job insecurity that may demotivate staff.

There is also a good level of communication within the company with the majority of the workforce attending team meetings at least every 3 months. This may suggest that the workforce is well motivated by the management, which may be due to the managers being perceived to have both democratic and paternalistic characteristics which may keep the workforces’ morale high. According to their job descriptions (Appendix5), these are skills the managers are suppose to possess in order to motivate staff, but it may not be true in practise.