COVID-related requirements, staff turnover amongst ‘biggest’ issues for UK chains: study | QSR Media
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COVID-related requirements, staff turnover amongst ‘biggest’ issues for UK chains: study

Said challenges are directly impacting food safety standards, NSF International said.

Regulatory requirements in relation to COVID-19, the rise of home delivery, equipment malfunctions, along with training and staff turnover are the five key areas of concern for UK QSRs, according to a study from public health and safety organisation NSF International.

82% of respondents raised concerns over the new COVID regulatory requirements, resulting in an “knock-on effect”, citing further challenges in the form of longer customer waiting times (55%) and increased running costs (36%).

“This is a pivotal moment for QSR brands. We know that many of the trends and corresponding challenges brought about by the pandemic are here to stay, so restaurant owners and managers need to adapt in order to survive – and to do so safely,” said John Rowley, vice president for NSF’s global food division.

14% of surveyed QSR managers said home delivery has increased food risks due to added pressure on employees. Survey respondents noted an increase in customer demands over the speed of delivery (36%) and keeping food at the right temperature (27%) were the biggest tensions.

Aside from the increased work pressure, QSR brands are also concerned about ensuring that third-party logistics partners have adequate food safety training, clean and suitable vehicles, and appropriate food boxes to ensure standards are upheld across the purchasing chain.  

27% say they “simply switch off” machinery due to a lack of time or expertise to troubleshoot the problem, with 31% temporarily discontinuing a menu item because of non-functioning equipment.  

At least one in ten QSR managers and employees also admit to skipping automatic cleaning cycles (12%) or ignoring error messages on equipment (13%).

“Food safety standards should be held in the highest regard – it is the factor that has the potential to make or break a QSR establishment, above all others,” Rowley said.

59% of QSR managers found staff turnover to be an issue for their business, with 23% believing it to be the biggest negative impact on operations. 41% of respondents added that finding and keeping staff is a huge challenge following the pandemic.  

73% of QSR respondents also said the pandemic has increased their training needs, with more than half (56%) being forced to cancel or delay employee training.

“Training is vital at every level in food services. Each employee should be clear on not only their employer’s expectations but the national standards and regulations – training is the most effective way to ensure this. For those that had training efforts hampered by the pandemic, I would encourage looking further afield and considering digital training systems, which deliver consistent and reliable training programmes, and can quickly help to resolve a huge hurdle for the QSR sector,” Rowley added.

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