Pressure in the kitchen, customer demands on the floor and the challenge to consistently churn out top-quality meals can turn the coolest of staff into fuming volcanoes.

According to Harriet Stacey of Wise Workplace, "The hospitality industry has a long history of conflict in the workplace. It is not surprising given the high-pressure environment, and the power imbalance between owners/cooks and junior wait staff. Extreme cases can become costly for the café owner".

So how do you reduce staff stress?

Beware of bullies

Bullying and abuse costs time and money and contributes to staff turnover. In extreme cases, it could result in charges against a staff member or even you as the café owner for failing to adequately protect the people who work for you.

Recruit right

One way to keep stress levels low is to hire staff that are not only competent for their role but have the right attitude and disposition for a busy café.

In fact, the right personality and attitude can sometimes supersede the skills a potential employee may have. Practical proficiency can be easily picked up by someone with the right attitude but an easy-going nature and good work ethic is important from day one.

Act quickly

If things do get out of hand and you hear about it after the damage is done – which tends to happen, as management is usually the last to know – act in haste. If you think the situation is serious, don't think twice. Call a professional – there are organisations who specialise in workplace mediation.

If you find a 'bad apple', the person who’s been contributing to the stress of your staff, it is best to let them go. Their behaviour could be part of an ongoing pattern and have a long-lasting effect on your café. It’s easier to find a replacement for one person than to continuously lose good staff.

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