How the F word is deflecting talent and eroding the restaurant industry

by Kara Buffrey
by Kara Buffrey


How you treat your employees is the purest reflection of your business intentions. If this is the case, then what sort of example has Gordon Ramsey set for the culinary industry with his unrelenting use of the F word?

Ralph Porciani, general manager of the Trump Turnberry resort, made headlines this month for enforcing a swearing ban at the resort restaurant. This is indicative of the revolt occurring in the food and service industry, linked to bettering the treatment of employees.

He commented: “swearing in the kitchen has become a trademark for some but its alien to us. It just doesn’t happen at Turnberry. We respect each other, have fun and love what we do.”

As well as demonstrating respect and consideration towards employees, this trend mirrors the conversation within all industries of improving diversity. Corporations are discussing the relevance of employing workers of all ages to avoid a lack of skill multiplicity. Nonetheless it has been proven that swearing in the workplace can be a ‘turn-off’ for both younger and older employees alike.

The final employment issue gaining traction at the moment is the use of business environment design and company perks to attract workers. Banning swearing correlates with this and can only improve staff retention by creating a pleasant, respectful working space to garner productivity.

Backing this up, restaurant owner Greg Marchant states that: “you can’t shout at people – this time is over. You cannot do that. Today, a lot of restaurants are working very hard on the company culture.”

All sectors are diversifying, not only to improve employee motivation, but also to enhance customer experience. There is still much work to be done in the kitchen though. Amanda Bootes states that “Gordon Ramsay’s image – renowned chef, user of the F-word and verbal abuser of staff – helps build the idea that such behaviour is normal”.

Rebelling against normality is causing a revolution as well. In his interview, Porciani also informed the interviewer of his change in business approach. He told of his use of a guest table in the kitchen and how this “open door approach” is benefitting the consumer experience. Of course, an experience of this kind simply cannot be served with a side plate of the F word from the chefs that surround you as you eat.

By eradicating tensions caused by explosive outbursts of frustration, this restaurant is revolutionising the dining experience and making the whole event better for the customers and employees – a successful double whammy!

Another concept negatively impacting diversity is the suggestion that a lack of female confidence is hindering employment opportunity. Swearing abusively can definitely provide a volatile environment that both men and women may not be comfortable working in.

It’s beyond irritating that gender inequalities are still a source of mention in articles surrounding enterprise. However, as a restauranteur, perhaps you are inadvertently excluding some of the best talent through your choice of ‘practice’. Or maybe the complexity has transpired and the whole industry is tainted by the ‘Ramsay reputation’.

Clearly swearing in the workplace goes further than just causing offense. It is commonplace for many office environments to house examples of ‘banter’. This kind of light-hearted use of swearing is where the debate swings. In such a high-pressured environment as a kitchen, however, it is clear the lines become blurred around acceptance.

It’s the 21st century after all. It may be time to plunge the F word into the boiling pan along with the £45 lobster, for the sake of staff retention at least.