#FairKitchens: a movement to establish a kitchen culture that is attractive for young people

5 April, 2019
  • 5 min read
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Hotelschool The Hague’s Hospitality Research Centre helps set new standards. The hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing industries globally, representing about one out of ten jobs worldwide. This diverse and dynamic industry offers great career perspectives and opportunities. However, the industry needs talents, younger and more senior, in order to sustain growth. Yet, this is a huge challenge since the image of the industry is not that good. Low pay, long working hours and a poor work-life balance are among the key issues that make talents leave the industry. Or even worse, they make talents decide not to enter the industry at all.

Kitchens are among the most stressful environments within the industry. Chefs are vital to the success of restaurants and with a booming restaurant business in cities around the world, the influx of young talents is crucial. However, research conducted by Unilever Food Solutions shows that about 50% of chefs and their kitchen staff feel pushed to a breaking point, close to 75% suffer from sleep deprivation, are too busy to look after themselves, experience little career opportunities, experience physical abuse, suffer from depression and feel underappreciated. This is alarming.

Hotelschool The Hague’s Hospitality Research Centre was invited by an initiative called #Fairkitchens, an initiative sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions to help develop a new standard for kitchens. The aim is to establish a movement that calls upon the hospitality industry, but especially restaurants, to build a better kitchen culture that attracts young people to stay in the industry. Currently, over 300 chefs globally joined the movement. The ambition is to encourage the more than 17 million restaurants around the world to implement the new FairKitchen standards.

A Fair Kitchen is a positive, sustainable work environment where staff well-being and happiness is of equal importance as dinner and guest satisfaction. It is a workplace where staff feels respected, paid or compensated fairly for (extra) hours worked, where staff feels safe to work, where leadership is constructive and developmental and where training and career progression is taken seriously. The challenge is huge, though attainable, especially since the need for new talent and talent retention is extremely high.

Together with a group of chefs and hospitality experts, dr. Huub Ruël, professor of Global Talent Management Innovation at Hotelschool The Hague spent two days in a pressure cooker environment. He participated in this challenge to identify and define practical and implementable criteria for FairKitchens and to set up an accreditation and governance structure for the #FairKitchens movement. These criteria will be turned into a checklist, that will be used to certify kitchens as FairKitchens. Among the criteria considered as the minimum for a FairKitchen are: a balanced number of working hours, compensation for extra hours, regular breaks, a respectful and safe work environment, guaranteed minimum wage per hour, training and development and constructive leadership. The #FairKitchens movement should lead towards a kitchen culture that is attractive to the next generation.

About the author

Huub Ruël

Dr. Huub Ruël is a professor of International Hospitality Business and Global Talent Management at Hotelschool The Hague. He manages two research lines: 1. Global Talent Management Innovation in the International Hospitality Business and 2. Hospitality in International Business and Diplomacy. The first research line focuses on the question how to innovate global talent management in the international hospitality industry. Keywords in this line are: innovative talent management practices in hospitality, technology enabled global talent management (e-HRM, HRIS) and human resource management in the hospitality industry. The second research line focuses on the question how hospitality plays a role in firm internationalisation and international relations. Keywords in this line are hospitality as a competence, hospitality in export, commercial and international business diplomacy, internationalisation processes in the hospitality industry and international hospitality business in fragile states and conflict zones. Besides the expertise in these two research lines, Huub Ruël is a specialist in internationalisation of higher education as well.

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