Work/Life Balance and an Owners Obligation

Photo Cred: Jacob Bleeker

Let me prelude this by saying I have spent the better part of all of my career on an unhealthy path that lacks any teeter between work and life. I have put countless off the clock, unpaid overtime and salary hours on my own free will than anyone should, because I put all of myself into the work I do. This is a trait that has given me the ability to do what I do now, but it’s also a trait that has been taken for granted and taken advantage of for the past decade + of my career, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that i’m not alone, and that there is a responsibility on owners and upper management to make sure that their greatest assets are taking care of their greatest asset; their health.

A cafe managers job should not be a 24/7 anxiety based waiting game, waiting for upper management (UM) to call them at 10pm with an issue, 6 hours after they left work at work. It is easy for an uninspired, unhealthy UM (Let’s just shorten that all together from here on out) to continually put work that they should be owning onto the shoulders of their cafe managers, and it’s an insanely despicable practice that needs to be brought to light. Barista and Manager burn out are very real, very present, and very much not being dealt with or handled with any kind of grace far too often.

Front line baristas, key leads, supervisors and store managers; you are the real stars of industry. There is no front facing coffee company or cafe without you, and you’re doing amazing. Mistakes are human, learning is a process, and if you feel like you’re in a place where this type of reminder isn’t embedded in the culture you might be in the wrong place. Your superiors are supposed to be there to inspire, to lead, to teach and to build you. This includes entirely a care for your overall health. Baristas matter so deeply, and are such an integral part to the success of any cafe, yet it seems to go forgotten all too often. I’m here to tell you you matter and you deserve more. If you feel like this is lacking in your current role, the time is now to bring light on it. We’re here for you, we’re beside you, and we’re not going to be quiet about it.

Cafe owners and UM; if this is making you feel some kind of way, it might be time to think about your practices and how you can correct the treatment of your most vital assets. This is not personal, this is not targeted, this is just an open call to treat people humanly. Embrace mistakes as teaching opportunities and not a chance to flex your machismo. Take that little bit of ownership over your brand and your cafes and stop putting an owners weight on cafe managers who are barely making over a living wage, if they even are. You have a responsibility to the sustainability of our industry on more levels than just ethical sourcing. You have humans lives in your hands, and you can throw them parties once or twice a year and make them feel appreciated and that’s great, but the real appreciation is in making sure the family you’ve built is healthy and happy. We’re watching. We see you, good practice and poor.

If you feel like you’re being run dry and could use someone in your corner, we’re here and we’re listening and we want to know your story so we can ask the necessary questions in the necessary directions. We love you.