· Features

2020’s best talent management strategy: Mitchells & Butlers

It’s no understatement the hospitality industry is in the midst of a severe crisis. As an industry, it has recently struggled to recruit team members: chefs and waiting staff, the kitchen managers and general managers of the future.

Operator of restaurants, pubs and bars in the UK, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) said it believes that having no incentives from schools to offer vocational subjects, shutting down kitchen classrooms and scrapping GSCE food technology is hurting the industry. As a result, college systems are reporting a 51% reduction in applications for chef qualifications.

Experiencing the harsh consequences of these issues daily, M&B wanted to effectively manage its talent, but was struggling to attract or retain it. In 2016, its staff turnover was 87%, with chef churn alone costing it circa £9 million in recruitment and training.

It was wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds on agency staff annually, leading to lower food quality, loss of sales, dissatisfied customers, increased wastage and, worryingly, lower food safety. Proactive, dramatic steps were needed quickly to future-proof the business and push back against industry decline.

M&B realised that young people are its lifeblood, and the sector desperately needed them. The challenge was how to implement change in a business not used to actively engaging young people, coupled with managers who were resistant to bringing young and inexperienced team members on board. Spanning 15 autonomous brands and 1,635 locations, the sheer scale of what it was attempting was phenomenal.

To ensure its youth talent strategy was water-tight, development included wide-reaching stakeholder consultation, manager engagement, including a complementary engagement strategy named See Later. Research into how millennials learn was also undertaken.

Matching the scale of the challenge, the plan was substantial, not just managing talent but tackling the entire talent lifecycle. The first of three parts of the plan focused on attracting talent, and to become an employer of choice for under-25s by establishing new external recruitment channels. The ambitious target set by the team was to achieve an average of one recruited apprentice in every pub and restaurant within two years.

The second part was to develop and upskill. To introduce new learning and development programmes specifically targeted to under-25s that offer qualifications equivalent to GCSE-level right up to master’s level; supported by a digital learning and development transformation.

The last part of the plan was to place more emphasis on retention. To use M&B’s youth initiatives and programmes to drive an overall improvement in staff turnover.

The scale of this strategy and its outcomes so far left the HR Excellence Awards judges engaged and wanting to know what will happen next.

Overall, they thought M&B’s talent management strategy was well thought-through and executed with a focus on developing people to achieve day after day making it this year’s award-winner.



HRA Pharma

Find the full list of the 2020 HR Excellence awards winners here. You can also watch the event on demand and register your interest in the 2021 event here.