Minimum wage, minimum effort

For the past few weeks we’ve been on the hunt for a new barista – I’d interviewed and trialled a new barista, and was chatting to her about start times and hourly rates.

“So what are you currently on, if you don’t mind me asking” I said to her.

“Minimum wage” she replied uneasily, while looking down at the floor.

This conversation reminded me of a topic I’ve had written down for ages now: if you pay minimum wage, expect minimum effort.

In all our years of owning Tuihana Café, I’m proud of the fact that we’ve never paid any of our staff minimum wage.  I want the maximum from my staff, and how do you expect that from someone getting the minimum?

We set pay rates based on a whole lot of criteria, including the role and experience. We try to review and increase pays once every six months, with regular feedback meetings every three months.

We provide lunch for prospective staff who trial with us (I firmly believe no-one should work for free, and adding them as a one-off to payroll isn’t practical) and if that staff member is hired, we pay them for those three hours.

When a staff member does leave, we have a farewell dinner for them, and label it a welcome dinner for the new staff member who is starting. It’s a great way to show your appreciation for what that staff member has bought to the role, and the best way to start a new employee off.

When staff leave, you should have the mindset that the person is only after the best for themselves, which is a perfectly reasonable thought.  There’s no point in blaming the employee for quitting. You need to create a fun and enjoyable environment, and pay a good wage.  If someone quits, review what you’re doing, and see how you can improve it.

Look after your staff and they will look after your customers.

Minimum wage = minimum effort.


(don’t even get me started on unpaid internships …)