Should your staff drink on the job?
The food and beverage industry is often characterized by employees that work hard and play hard. Don’t confuse the two. Employees should never be consuming alcoholic beverages before or during (or after!) their scheduled work shifts. I am actually surprised that I’m including this topic, but an alarming number of people in the industry don’t see this as a problem or challenge!
I have heard some owners suggest that in a more casual atmosphere, bartenders and even service staff having a drink with the locals helped customers feel more relaxed, or in a resort location it enhanced comradely spirit. Don’t believe this for a second!
Many jurisdictions around the world have government-mandated requirements designed to protect staff members’, customers’ and your financial health. A business shut down due to alcohol consumption infractions serves no one: lost wages, lost income, lost brand loyalty and lost profit are the end result. It also sets a poor example of effective leadership from management.
Service staff and bartenders needn’t be consuming beverages on the job in hopes that it will help relax customers and make them feel more at home. That’s the job of your frontline training procedures and policies to enhance customer service to a level that exceeds the customer’s expectations. Inebriated staff members don’t enhance any part of your business, and in fact put you at great personal and financial risk that is upheld by the laws in your province, region or state.
Many of the laws around the service of alcohol make you your brother’s and sister’s keeper. Should one of your customers be over-served, leave you in a less than ideal state to drive and have an accident causing injury or death, the server, the bartender, bar manager and owners can all be held legally responsible.
Consider this today! Many provincial and state governments have guidelines and policies directly related to the control and consumption of alcoholic beverages sold at any establishment within their jurisdiction. They also frequently offer resources and courses to instruct staff in service requirements. Issues of over-service, how to identify an inebriated guest, how to handle them and more are all part of the training. Some of these courses may also be available online. Several trade associations either offer beverage service training or can point you to recognized agencies in your jurisdiction that can help. In many jurisdictions some kind of “serving it right” training course is required for all servers that handle alcoholic beverages as well as required training courses for supervisors and managers.
It’s always a good idea to consider updating your staff training in this important area. Things change: if you can’t remember the last time you updated your own training in this area, it might be time for you, too.
Make it a plan today to check on all staff members, old and new, regarding this critically important point of service. Make sure everyone is current and up to date regarding the policies, laws and requirements relating to beverage service in your local jurisdiction. I bet none of these agencies condone alcohol consumption while on the job …
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Mike has worked across Canada as a food and beverage professional and currently divides his time between writing and teaching people how to start and run their own businesses.