Bar operators among best companies to work for

hawksmoor air streetLeading bar operators have been listed as among the best British companies to work for in the annual ranking published by The Sunday Times.

TGI Friday’s was named the third best company to work for, with feedback from staff rating the bar-restaurant operator highly for team working, line management and leadership.

Employees also said they felt their jobs were secure, giving TGI Friday’s an 86 per cent positive score, beating every other firm on the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For 2013 list.

The expanding company employs 4,114 people across its 55 restaurants in the UK and is creating another 600 jobs by opening six new restaurants this year. Staff turnover currently runs at 40 per cent compared to a hospitality industry average of 90 per cent.

The annual survey, run by research specialist Best Companies, is based on feedback from employees. This year, 896 businesses registered to take part and the main list, featuring companies with 250 to 4,999 employees, and the list of 25 best big companies with over 5,000 employees were published in the Sunday Times yesterday.

Fifth best company to work for is bar and restaurant operator Hawksmoor, which has four London sites in Guildhall in the City, Seven Dials in Covent Garden, Spitalfields, and Air Street, Piccadilly (pictured above).

Hawksmoor’s workforce receive an average front-of-house salary of £26,000 a year, with staff feeling they are paid fairly compared with people in rival companies. More than half of the workforce also takes advantage of the chance to take out loans from their employer.

Nearly nine in 10 of the 254-strong workforce, who have an average age of 27, are proud to work for the company and 82 per cent are excited about where the organisation is going. Staff are encouraged to develop “Hawksmooriness”, with a course for senior managers on the company culture, and 86 per cent rate the business for having a strong social conscience.

In ninth place is Living Ventures, which employs 1,032 people across bars and restaurants in Manchester and the north-west such as The Alchemist, Australasia, The Oast House and Gusto restaurants as well as the Blackhouse Grill group which has expanded out of the north to sites in London and Glasgow.

Most staff feel they are paid fairly for the work they do in comparison to others within the company (72 per cent) as well as elsewhere in the industry (70 per cent). They feel they receive fair pay for the responsibilities (70 per cent) and they receive perks such as being able to dine with guests for half price in all Living Ventures eateries.

Staff say they have a lot of fun within their teams (88 per cent) and get a buzz out of working with each other (80 per cent).

In 25th place is Inventive Leisure, which has a workforce of 2,202 at its Revolution and Revolucione de Cuba bars across the UK. The company has more than trebled in size from about 20 bars in 2000 to 68 today and a fifth of workers have been there for 10 or more years. Staff feel their jobs are secure, with an 80 per cent positive score.

Four-fifths are 25 or younger and only three per cent are over 35. They have the most fun of any workforce in the Best Companies survey, scoring 91 per cent, and they get a buzz out of working with their colleagues (80 per cent).

Each bar was given £35 per employee for team-building last year and most managers spent the money on activities such as paintballing and go-karting. An annual black-tie event was attended by 1,500 staff last year and included a champagne reception, three-course dinner and awards ceremony.

The company scores in the top 10 for having a strong sense of family in teams (85 per cent) and people care about each other (84 per cent). Each year, Inventive Leisure runs four two-day conferences for bar management teams and in November 2011 this was held in Las Vegas.

Inventive Leisure’s bartenders are among the lowest paid people in the Best Companies list, receiving just over £7,000 a year for 20 hours a week. Only one per cent of staff get £55,000 or more. However, pay is supplemented from an annual pot of £250,000, which area managers can dip into to recognise and reward employees.

In 39th place is the Savoy Hotel in London, home to the American Bar and the Beaufort Bar. Staff say work is an important part of their life and a source of great pride, both scoring 88 per cent positive in the survey.

Two-thirds of the hotel’s 513 staff earn between £15,000 and £25,000 and many team members, who put in an average 45-hour week, admit they are exhausted most days when they get home, giving just a 36 per cent positive score. However, they still love their jobs, scoring 78 per cent, and get a buzz out of working in their team (74 per cent).

At number 78 is Belfast-based Botanic Inns, which employs 514 people at its 16 bars, clubs and hotels such as Apartment and Scratch. The survey found that 72 per cent of staff say they love working for the organisation which scores highly for teamwork: employees say their team is fun (81 per cent) and that working with colleagues gives them a buzz (70 per cent).

Restaurant operators in the top 100 list include Busaba Eathai at 54, Las Iguanas at 79 and Byron at 92. In the list of top 25 best big companies to work for, InterContinental Hotel Group is at number 3, hotel company Marriott is at number 7, restaurant and hotel operator Whitbread ranks at 10 and hotel group Hilton is at 22.

The list of best small companies to work for is published on March 10.

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