People vs Experience

Temporary event staff – what makes your on-site team great? Tom Boyesen-Corballis – Senior HR Manager at TempTribe argues, it’s not all about the experience.

Tom from LOLA Staffing

Let’s set the scene…

A new waiter arrives promptly for their first ever shift with determination and curiosity: they want to perform well, impress managers, make guests happy, but they’re nervous, a bit unsure of themselves. They ask all the right questions and are polite and proactive, always offering to help other team members and guests.

Working in the staffing world when we ask clients what they look for in a staff member the responses are inevitably something along the lines of ‘they need to be experienced in X, Y, Z’ , ‘they need to be able to clear tables efficiently’ or ‘they need to be experienced in working on a bar.’ These are perfectly understandable requests that we receive time and time again, however there are a few issues with these requests especially when it comes to agency bookings.

Agencies can be fantastic recruitment tools to utilise: they offer great flexibility and variety for the staff members working and they also offer an affordable way for anyone to source the right staff required to run an event. However, as with any tool, they must be used effectively so to gain the greatest advantage.

Here are a few issues that we have come across in our experience.

People’s understanding of event lingo

Whether you are a catering company, a hotel or a livery hall you will have a slightly different understanding of different event terminology; wave service, bomb drop service, buffet service etc… These variations in understanding mean that although someone might have experience with the skill in question they may make ‘mistakes’ because they were taught differently.

Previous experience or “experience”

Experience is no guarantee that someone will be an effective worker. Many people on paper, seem to be fantastic but may not turn out to be all they claimed to be: A CV will only give you a small amount of information about a candidate! Experienced staff may be regimented into a certain style of delivery service and so are likely to be resistant to changing styles of service rendering them not as good as their experience portrays them to be. Having an experience-only mindset can result in you missing out on some very competent enthusiastic workers. Sometimes it can be a case of “what they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm” and with “lack” of experience comes the opportunity for you to mould them into the ideal staff member.

How important is experience in the grand scheme of things?

As with our person in the example above some people turn out to be fantastic even though they have never worked in their life! This really shows in the feedback that we receive from our clients post-event. Only a very small amount of it is actually dedicated to the skills of the person, most of the feedback will refer to commitment, work ethic, politeness and other similar characteristics.

So maybe we need a different approach. Let’s look at people’s attitudes to work first. Team leaders and supervisors will then give them the guidance required to make sure the great people gain great experience!

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