Instead of closing his restaurant on certain evenings to cope with the lack of staff, Julien Leclercq decided to experiment with a four-day week to attract seasonal workers.
In Lectoure, in the middle of the esplanade, the “Le Bastion” café-restaurant offers a well-deserved break to tourists and passing Gersois with the added bonus of a breathtaking view of the southern horizon. At the head of the company, Julien Leclercq. 39 years old and entrepreneur at heart, this father at the head of the establishment since 2020 alongside his wife, Julie Brasseur, is also the boss of a press company in Astaffort. By taking over Le Bastion, a veritable Lectouroise institution, Julien and Lucie had to face new challenges after the health crisis.
The catering sector has been facing a labor shortage for the past two years. At Le Bastion, the couple of restaurateurs employ, out of season, five people on permanent contracts and two apprentices and in the summer season this number can climb to 25. That is to say a need for labor multiplied by four. “The Gers and Lectoure in particular are territories with extremely seasonal activity”, notes Julien Leclercq.
To cope with the influx of tourists, the restaurateur must rely, more than ever, on the recruitment of new seasonal workers. Staggered hours, low salary, unattractive contract: the profession is struggling to recruit. “It’s very complicated to find people, especially more than qualified motivated people, because we can train directly on site”, explains Julien.
The way of working questioned
Former vice-president of the Center for Young Leaders (CDJ), Julien Leclercq has long reflected on the forms of work, the relationship to it and its place in our lives. “Many restaurateurs have decided to close in the evening due to lack of staff”, supports the business manager. To avoid this situation, he organized a meeting with his entire team last spring to discuss possible improvements.
One of the solutions was to experiment with the four-day week. Reduce the number of trips to the site while performing the same number of hours of work. “We thus guarantee our seasonal workers 3 days of weekly rest”, reports Julien Leclercq. A solution that works but which can however have its limits. “Some wanted to go back to 5 days because it was long days,” he adds.
The couple of restaurateurs also wondered about the obstacles to recruitment with housing in the first place. To respond to this problem, Julien has simply invested and offers rental accommodation in Lectoure. He now wants to look into the question of the mobility of seasonal workers for next year.
Rethink management methods
“It’s a job that can be directive, we try to put a little softness”, explains Julien. In a branch where stress and anxiety can be omnipresent, the boss relies on a more “soft” management method in order to optimize communication with his employees. For most employees, the work environment is relatively pleasant. “If relations with colleagues, the atmosphere, the salary and the boss are at the top, I apply without any problem”, confides Christophe, on fixed-term contract at Bastion for three months. And the bet seems successful for the establishment.