Work-life balance: Is it possible in the pub trade?

One of the concerns expressed by many people who are thinking about running a pub is achieving a positive work-life balance. In fact, a popular misconception is that being a pub landlord means saying goodbye to any sense of a work-life balance.

Your pub might be open long hours, but you can still have a great family and social life. Achieving an effective work-life balance is certainly possible; all it needs is organisation and flexibility.

The challenge of achieving work-life balance

Becoming a pub landlord does not result in an increased risk of damaging your work-life balance. Running any business, especially in the early days, is likely to have an impact on your home life; it’s not a unique challenge to the pub business. In fact, it is a growing problem that everyone faces no matter what industry or business sector they work in.

Throughout the UK, an increasing number of people are now working 49 or more hours per week, which with commuting time can put an incredible strain on family and social lives. Working such long hours can eventually damage mental health, too. According to the Mental Health Foundation, work related stress causes the loss of 10.4 million working days per year. It can, quite simply, make you ill.

Greene King is all too aware of the risk of over working yourself, and always seeks to support pub landlords with help and advice on time management. It is important to organise your workload efficiently from the moment you begin working as a landlord for a pub business, and to put time aside each day that you can devote to your family and leisure interests. Everyone needs time to relax and renew energies for the next working day.

Fortunately, running a pub offers a lot more flexibility than many other businesses, making it possible to achieve some work-life balance provided you make use of the opportunities when they present themselves.

Work-life balance for pub landlords

Working as a pub landlord does require some adjustment in the way you timetable your day. Working hours will be different. Instead of having to leave at 7am to reach your office and not returning until 7pm or later, you may only need to walk down the stairs to reach your place of work. This gives you several extra hours each week during which you can do other things, such as being with your family, walking the dog, going to the gym etc. It also means that you can share tasks like taking the children to school or picking them up after the lunchtime rush.

However, you do need to be strict with yourself. Learning to recognise what is urgent, what can be delegated and what you can leave until later is an important part of running your business. Feeling that you have to be at work, on a computer or directly working in the pub every minute can lead eventually to ‘burning out’, so learn to make time for yourself from the start.

Seven steps to a better work-life balance

1. Take a break

There will always come a point in everyday where you are no longer working effectively. Stopping for a break to do something else, or relaxing ensures that you can work better during your working hours. Inevitably, there will also be times when illness occurs, especially in the winter months when colds and coughs are prevalent. If you feel unwell, take time off. Let your deputy manager or another member of staff deal with the running of the pub while you are unwell. This will help you recover much more quickly and reduce the risk of passing on the virus to your staff and customers. Taking such care is the function of a good manager.

2. Delegating with your staff

Be prepared to delegate work to your employees. Remember that you are not expected to do everything when you lease a pub. Train and trust your employees to do their jobs well. For example, closing up the pub, dealing with customers, managing any minor issues. This is an essential part of management. Greene King offers a wide range of training courses designed to improve efficiency and career development, which will ensure that staff can acquire the skills they need.

3. Don’t let work affect leisure or family time

Do not turn on the computer and start doing paperwork during your leisure or family time. If you have children, make sure that they know what they can do, and where they are allowed to go. Remember that they too will need privacy and will not want to be around customers or even in the pub all the time. Consider having a small private area of the garden where they can relax and a separate entrance so that they don’t have to go through the pub. This will help your work-life balance considerably.

4. Pursue other interests

Take time away from the business to stay fresh, clear headed and maintain your personal interests. This will help you approach your working life more effectively. As a pub landlord, often those personal interests coincide with social activities relating to the pub. Taking part in a darts game or watching a football match on television with customers can be a very social occasion and can give you a break from your day-to-day responsibilities.

5. Run a schedule of regular jobs

Set yourself a routine to ensure that all key activities around the running of the pub are completed each week. Tasks such as accepting deliveries, undertaking stock control, discussing menus with the chef and carrying out maintenance checks. This will reduce any worry that you may have missed or forgotten something, thus allowing you to relax effectively during your leisure time.

6. Build a good relationship with your partner

If you are running a pub business with your partner, make sure that you take time to talk over any problems. Specify areas of responsibility and stick to those areas. Don’t challenge decisions made by your partner in front of employees or customers as this can cause tension. If you have concerns about those decisions, discuss them later in private. Working with a partner in a business of this kind can make relationships much stronger, provided you trust and respect one another’s opinions on how to run a pub.

7. Get support from pub companies…like Greene King

Never let problems become too acute and affect your work or your family. When problems occur, seek advice by talking to colleagues on the Greene King team. This will enable you to deal with the problem much more effectively and quickly, thus reducing the stress on yourself.

In addition, Greene King partner with the Licensed Trade Charity who provide further services to support you.

Creating a viable work-life balance as a pub landlord is certainly achievable, resulting in an extremely enjoyable lifestyle with a harmonious career and social life. Remember that no one is indispensable – you may be the pub landlord, but you also have a family and a social life. Harmony for all three elements ensures a successful business.

If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, pub tenancy vacancies, or the cost of running a pub please do contact our team who will be more than happy to help you.