Essential EQ & Practical Skills for Frontline Staff in Retail and Hospitality

Hospitality and retail are complex industries, and ones that require a very specific set of skills amongst employees in order for businesses to succeed. Nowhere is this more true than on the frontlines of an organisation, where staff interact directly with customers and play an enormous role in shaping their experience. 

For hospitality and retail businesses in Australia, it's therefore critical to ensure that frontline employees are equipped with the skills that they'll need to provide the highest levels of customer service. But what exactly are these skills, and how can organisations make sure they've embedded them within their frontline teams? 

There's a lot of overlap between hospitality and retail in terms of the attributes great frontline staff should have.

The essential skills needed for hospitality and retail

While hospitality and retail are very different sectors in many ways, there's a lot of overlap between the two in terms of the attributes great frontline staff should have.

At the top of this list sit interpersonal skills such as good communication, patience and a friendly attitude. These qualities are the building blocks of providing great customer service, and any employees who don't possess them have a much higher chance of creating a bad impression.

Just as important is the ability to work as part of a team – vital when managing groups of customers or ensuring complicated workflows with multiple points of staff involvement run smoothly. Finally, flexibility and the ability to solve problems makes it possible to react quickly and appropriately in the event of a crisis, regardless of whether that's a fire evacuation or managing a customer complaint.

All of these skills fall under the category of emotional intelligence, often referred to as a person's emotional quotient (EQ). While a high EQ is essential, there are also industry and situation-specific skills that need to be taught to frontline staff. These can vary based on the type of business they work within. For example, frontline employees in workplaces that have a bar will need to be equipped with an understanding of the responsible service of alcohol, while anyone who directly handles food will need to have a thorough understanding of food safety standards and hygiene best practices.  

These practical skills can be taught, but qualities that fall under EQ are more dependent on a particular employee's personality. For example, patience under pressure is an incredibly valuable talent, but is difficult to ingrain this in somebody who naturally gets flustered. As such, there are two core elements that businesses need to focus on in order to ensure frontline teams are as good as they can be – recruitment and training.

Are your employees aware of alcohol service best practices?Responsible service of alcohol is one example of a skill that frontline staff need to be trained in.

Recruiting essential EQ and practical skills

Securing the right retail or hospitality skills and attributes within frontline teams starts during recruitment. In best case scenarios, you'll be able to secure candidates who already possess some of the more important practical skills within your industry, and have the necessary job experience or qualifications to prove it. 

The best way to identify and secure candidates who possess all of the qualities that you're looking for is to recruit through an industry-specific job site.

The best way to identify and secure candidates who possess all of the qualities that you're looking for is to recruit through an industry-specific job site. Within the hospitality industry, and Australian clubs in particular, one of the best options is Jobs In Clubs, which is part of Barringtons and provides a one-stop destination for both employees and employers in the industry. The advantages of this type of recruitment are clear, making it possible to immediately reach a group of candidates who are directly qualified for, or have experience within the industry. 

Training essential EQ and practical skills

While using an industry-specific recruitment portal is a great way to identify top talent, many organisations will need to build on basic skills through specialised training. This is another area where Barringtons is able to assist, providing a wide variety of courses and qualifications that can ensure your frontline staff are well-equipped with the core attributes they need to succeed. These focus on all sorts of areas, including:

  • Club compliance and risk management
  • First aid
  • Providing responsible service of alcohol
  • Providing responsible gambling services
  • Workplace bullying
  • Food safety
  • Best practices for clubs and gaming venues
  • Dealing with difficult people
  • Armed robbery survival skills

Many of these courses are available online, meaning that staff are able to upskill without needing to travel long distances or take time off work. 

Blending the two processes of recruitment and training can ensure that a business has the right base of skills within employees, and is then able to build on that via industry-specific training. The result is a team of frontline staff who possess the necessary skills and qualities for retail and hospitality, and are able to deliver the very best service to your customers.

For more information on recruitment and training, contact Barringtons today.

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