Corporate Hospitality – The Brave New World

The fine art of inhouse corporate hospitality continues to climb new heights with some of Sydney’s biggest players leading the way. When many of Sydney’s corporate elite moved into Barangaroo in 2015/2016 new benchmarks were set with office fit outs in the three International Towers boasting extensive state of the art meeting, boardroom and events facilities serviced by custom designed commercial kitchens and dedicated pantries.

As the trend moves away from the ostentatious external corporate entertaining of times gone by, the budget focus has shifted to internal hospitality offerings with this spend becoming increasingly more important for corporations from both a client and staff perspective.

Geared to please both internal and external stakeholders, service offerings range from busy corporate cafes producing 1000 plus coffees per day to a la carte fine dining service featuring food by hatted chefs. The employers of choice are those that offer not just flexible work arrangements, but free coffee and the availability of good quality meals with corporate hospitality being high up on the list of perks that attract employees and assist with employee retention.

So how do companies staff these operations successfully? The industry is facing several challenges. The trend towards the agile working environment and flexible work hours brings new challenges for rostering and staffing ratios. Coupled with this, large firms are extending the hot desk idea to the suburbs, decentralising to labour force hotspots such as Sydney’s Western Suburbs. Areas such as Parramatta, where economic growth is expected to double over the next 5 years and real estate does not have the same high price tag as the city centre, are becoming increasingly popular.

On top of this, the range of catering and service required to power these hospitality operations are diverse and comprehensive, putting pressure on a labour market already experiencing shortages across high level hospitality skill sets. The demand for highly skilled chefs, baristas and boardroom waiters is ongoing and far less seasonal than the wider hospitality industry with corporate offices only slowing during school holiday periods and the Christmas break.

So how are corporate hospitality managers overcoming these issues to maximise their team’s performance? It seems that flexibility is one of the key ingredients. The ability to tap into a flexible workforce, sourced from an ever-widening area, is paramount to overcoming the challenges of a widely fluctuating roster. The rise of the gig economy has helped, with more people choosing to take on a variety of roles over the working week to achieve financial security. Corporate hospitality managers are also relying more and more on agency staff, such as Clifford Wallace Agency, to achieve this flexibility, taking pressure off rosters and easing payroll related expenditure.

With higher level hospitality skills in great demand, being able to source staff who have access to ongoing training will also assist in overcoming shortages. Supplying diversified hospitality training inhouse when it’s not your core business is neither practical nor cost effective. A full-service staffing agency can provide the solution, particularly if they offer bespoke options.

As the inhouse corporate hospitality industry change continues to move forward at a rapid pace, agency staff will play a prominent role in overcoming logistical and budgetary issues. This is contributing to the ongoing professionalisation of the workforce, allowing managers to safely augment their inhouse staff with teams they can rely on to be work ready, capable and cost effective.

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