A new staff-sharing plan aims to discourage food and beverage (F&B) staff from job hopping, which is a huge problem in the industry.

Workers are being poached by competitors or leave due to a lack of career advancement, especially in small, independent eateries, said Mr Cheong Hai Poh, president of the Food and Beverage Managers' Association.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday for industry conference Food&HotelAsia2014, he said that such a plan would give workers the chance to work across different food outlets and also prevent poaching.

The idea is to have three or four eateries with similar formats - for instance, cafes, fine-dining restaurants or bistros - but different cuisines agree to exchange staff.

Discussions are still under way but, so far, restaurants have "responded positively", said Mr Cheong.

He added: "When they switch restaurants, staff can try different working environments to develop their career in the industry. When restaurants work together to exchange staff, hopefully, they can change the mindset towards poaching, too."

Figures from the Singapore Department of Statistics show that the average monthly resignation rate for the accommodation and food services industries in 2012 was 4.3 per cent, almost double the 2.3 per cent for the service sector in general.

Part-timers account for 42 per cent of the industry's staff headcount and workers typically stay less than three years, said Mr Cheong.

The association is also looking to tap a new source of manpower: Full-time national servicemen about to complete their two-year stint.

An employment fair targeting this group will be held either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. The idea, said Mr Cheong, is to entice these people to join the industry, and possibly choose it for a long-term career.

Eatery owners MyPaper spoke to said that the staff-sharing idea seemed to be a step in the right direction, but wondered how effective it would be.

"Switching staff between restaurants serving different cuisines wouldn't solve the problem (of the manpower shortage)," said Ms Fiona Lee, the owner of Lee's Taiwanese.

"The problem is more because Singaporeans don't think that working in the F&B industry is a professional job. They don't like to serve others."