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Living Wage Cat Cafe!

Posted: 2018-07-30 12:37:40

Living Wage Cat Cafe!

Having been an accredited Living Wage employer since opening, The Purrple Cat Café celebrated its half birthday in June this year and it is safe to say they are feline good! Home to 26 furry friends, the café is unique in Glasgow and is trailblazing in more ways than one. Owner Tracey Malcomson has past experience of working in hospitality as well as working for NHS 24. Tracey has also been a Union representative for UNISON. She told us of how all of this this gave her an acute awareness and understanding of the issues around low pay and the pitfalls of the hospitality industry.

Directly employing over 256,000 people, Scotland’s bars, restaurants and cafés play a vital role in our economy and the industry is a major economic driver throughout the country.  The industry is often characterised as one with poor pay and working conditions, with 67% of its workers earning below the real Living Wage. Tracey feels as though this can be a major stumbling block to people who are committed to their work but feel as though it does not offer much in the way of long term or financial stability.

Tracey said: “It’s frustrating that people are scared to leave a job that they hate for a job they love and are motivated by, all because of the insecurity and notoriously terrible wages. So many people would rather take time off sick because they can’t face going into work than make the move into hospitality because of its bad reputation. It just shows how illogical the industry can be.”

Tracey recognises the importance of having a staff team who feel valued and secure in their role. Evidence has shown that by investing in your staff, there are real long term business benefits. In fact, 75% of accredited Living Wage employers have reported an increase in motivation and retention rates for employees. Not only does paying the real Living Wage improve retention, reduce expenditure on recruitment and decrease the time and cost of training new staff, it also encourages stronger customer relations which is ultimately better for business.

Tracey sees Purrple Cat Café as an alternative to the norm in her industry, “This speaks to adults who are passionate about their job and not just there to earn enough to get by. We received over 4000 applications before opening in December 2017 and six months in, I can report no retention issues. We’ve not had to replace any staff, so the initial investment has already led to savings.”

Becoming an accredited Living Wage employer is only part of the Café’s forward thinking approach to employment, with ‘work life balance’ at the heart of their vision. Staff rotas are flexible and tailored to the diverse range of staff at the Café. This has led to “great staff morale, it’s a fantastic and inclusive environment where everyone looks after one another and feels valued. The prevailing mind set amongst hospitality owners and managers is that staff are easily replaceable, and in some ways they are right. I have 4000 people outside that door who would come to work for us in a heartbeat. But the difference here is that the staff we have are committed to the business and the customers and that means we don’t need to hire or train anyone else.”

Not only does the café offer a great range of sweet treats, it also runs various community classes such as Yoga and Book Club sessions. The staff are also given disability training to ensure that the café is a welcoming environment for all. It is evident that Tracey has created an environment which has fostered a great connection to the local community and to the staff who do not just consider their work as a mundane necessity. Indeed, Tracey told us of how a few of her staff have moved on to follow different career paths however, they continue to volunteer their time in the café or pop in to say hello.

Reflecting on her first six months, Tracey told us “I’m running a business here, not a social club or a charity. It’s important to recognise this and hopefully get the message home to others in the industry that it can be done- paying the real Living Wage and being a successful business is not mutually exclusive.”

It’s great to see businesses investing in their staff, and for the cat café, it’s really paid off! The Purrple Cat Café is the purrfect addition to our living wage movement and we hope that their successes will encourage others in the industry to follow in their furry footsteps!

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