In an industry that can be rife with long hours, minimal pay, tough working conditions, and high staff turnover, Rotorua catering company Stolen Bike is setting a new benchmark for the way in which hospitality staff are rewarded for their hard work and their contribution to the company’s success.
At Stolen Bike Catering all staff paid are paid in excess of New Zealand’s living wage (currently $21.15 per hour), obtain 7 weeks annual leave per year, can access company-funded training and personal development, and receive unlimited sick leave. With extremely low staff turnover and minimal accident rates compared with industry averages, Stolen Bike’s approach is clearly working, says Director and Head Chef Ryan Gregorash (pictured).
“Most of us work in hospitality for the simple reason that we are passionate about preparing and serving delicious food for others to enjoy. But working in this industry can be tough. It’s a high pressure, fast-paced environment where you’re critically judged on every single plate of food you serve. You can get burnt, you can get cut, the hours are long, and the pay can be poor. It’s not surprising that as an industry, hospitality churns through about 50% of its staff in a single year. At Stolen Bike we’re working hard to change this,” he says.
“One of the goals for Stolen Bike is to be an ‘Employee First’ company – where key decisions are discussed and debated before being implemented; where creativity and risk-taking is encouraged and celebrated; where team members’ ideas and decisions are backed. And most importantly, to be a company where decisions are made based not only on what’s good for the company and its customers, but for its team members too.”
Chef Gregorash believes that working for Stolen Bike should be a viable, sustainable, and rewarding choice, where team members can not only satisfy their passion for making great food, but a choice that gives them more financial freedom, increased flexibility, and development opportunities that allow them to thrive outside of work too.
“All of our team members have different personal goals – saving for a house, spending time with their kids during school holidays, working towards owning or running their own restaurant, for example. As their employer, Stolen Bike chooses to play a role in helping them achieve these things. Not only is it the right thing to do, it makes good business sense too,” says Chef Gregorash.
“Paying the team a fair wage, offering 7 weeks annual leave, funding their professional and personal development, and investigating pathways for our team to earn an ownership stake in our business are not only things that feel good, they are deliberate and long-term strategic decisions we’ve made to help us achieve Stolen Bike’s goals,” says Chef Gregorash.
While Chef Gregorash recognises these decisions have led to an increase in Stolen Bike’s overheads, a conscious effort has been made to avoid passing these costs onto customers via price increases. This is because the long-term benefits to the company are more than offset by the short-term costs of the decisions, he says.
“Yes, our costs have increased by 6-7% as a result of these decisions. But we also looked very closely at the potential costs of recruiting and training new staff, the loss in productivity while they get up to speed, and the potential cost of fatigued, overworked staff who would be more likely to get injured. We can already see the positive difference these plans have made to our staff turnover, to the number of workplace injuries, and most importantly, to the morale of the team. We firmly believe that by being a good employer, and adopting a ‘Employee First’ approach, we have made our company more profitable in the medium to long-term and in a much, much better position to achieve its ambitions.”
The company was recognised at the Westpac Rotorua Business Awards where the judges named Stolen Bike Catering as the city’s Best Small Business for 2018.