The past year has shown how vital front-of-house staff are to museums, but has also exposed the challenges faced by these workers.
To support them, the Museums Association is launching the Front of House Charter for Change, which has been developed in collaboration with Front of House Museums. It will outline the essential role these workers play, with recommendations for recognition, inclusion, professional development, conditions and wellbeing.
Many front-of-house staff feel they are seen as being at the margins of museums. This means that their opinions are often ignored, despite the fact that their role gives them in-depth insights into what works for visitors.
They are often seen as a “group” rather than individuals, not meriting a “good morning”. Operational requirements mean they are less able to attend training, staff meetings or celebrations, which contributes further to a sense of exclusion and organisational division.
Some museums have measures in place to value, include, develop and treat front-of-house workers in a similar way to other staff, but this is rare.
As museums navigate visitor engagement post Covid-19, how we treat front-of-house is critical for sector recovery.
We urge museums to use the charter to improve their treatment of front-of-house workers, creating a positive experience of work for everyone.
Tamsin Russell is the workforce development officer at the Museums Association