'We need to make hospitality an attractive career choice & demonstrate we are enlightened employers’
Industry leaders share their views on how we can drive recruitment and win hospitality workers back to help restore confidence, ease the pressure and maintain an optimum guest experience.
With the hospitality industry facing huge staffing challenges, we spoke to industry experts to get their advice on areas such as: what background and experience should hoteliers look for, how can we curb migration to other industries and how can hoteliers ease staff’s anxieties about returning to work?
Guestline gets expert guidance from Kate Nicholls, CEO – UKHospitality; Mark Lewis, Chief Executive- Hospitality Action; Janice Gault Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation; Jane Pendlebury, Chief Executive – HOSPA and Nuala McLoughlin, HR Advisor – Irish Hotel Federation.
Mark Lewis, Chief Executive - Hospitality Action
'Hoteliers can restore confidence in working in this sector by demonstrating they are enlightened employers, offering a fair rate of pay and providing positive workplace environments'
- Hospitality is an industry sector that offers many and varied opportunities to build lifelong careers. That said, Brexit has depleted the workforce alarmingly, and there’s a growing body of anecdotal evidence that some workers who found employment in other sectors during successive lockdowns are not returning.
- Initiatives to convey the appeal of a career in hospitality are proliferating; and, of course, Springboard continues its work to promote the industry to job seekers and career influencers.
- For their part, operators need to be able to demonstrate that they are enlightened employers, offering a fair rate of pay and a transparent gratuities system, and providing positive and nourishing workplace environments built on diversity, inclusion and equality. Any hotelier unsure of what an enlightened employer looks like, should refer to the Hoteliers’ Charter.
- On a more practical level, like many people across the country, some hospitality workers will inevitably be anxious about the return to work. They may care for elderly relatives; or they or family members may have health conditions that put them at heightened risk of Covid complications. And some may have chosen not to be vaccinated. Whatever the reason for their anxiety around returning to work, it’s essential to communicate to them that their wellbeing is your first priority, that the steps you’re taking to create safe, Covid-free environments are as much for your teams as for the visitors to your premises. After all, healthy, happy team members make happy guests. https://www.hospitalityaction.org.uk/
Janice Gault, Chief Executive - Northern Ireland Hotels Federation
'Hotels are now big operations - let’s highlight the amazing career opportunities to be had in hospitality, shake off old perceptions and offer people security to get their careers back on track'
- Staffing has been an issue within the hotel sector for more than a decade. There is a hangover from old practices which are no longer the norm. Hotels are big operations and there are many new roles in marketing, finance, sales as well as front of house that we need to highlight. There are also real opportunities to have your own business and progress swiftly to a senior level. Many industries operate on a 24/7 basis and in some ways hotels are no different but there is now significantly more competition for new employees. We all have to work together and tell others about what an amazing opportunity a hotel career can be.
- It is always possible to train people for this industry - it’s a lot about attitude and adaptability. The skills that we require are those used in lots of customer facing roles such as retail and many of those who we take on in more senior roles e.g. sales, marketing or finance need to be made aware of the sector and product specifics.
- The Hoteliers' Charter highlights our commitment to people, and this is something we need to continually reassure staff about. The situation over the last year been very difficult with developments beyond our control, the aim is to stay open and continue to trade offering people security and the opportunity to get their careers back on track.
- Part of the issue for the hotel and wider hospitality sector is that there is little focus in the school curriculum on the sector. Some of the roles we are seeking to fill like front of house are more about life skills, with many employers now offering a lifetime learning pathway.
Jane Pendlebury, Chief Executive - HOSPA
'Value your team’s contributions, upskill front line staff and invest in personal development to drive loyalty and employee skillsets'
- An investment in Professional Development is likely to increase loyalty from your up-and-coming management team. To know that senior management see enough worth in an individual to invest in their future through increasing their knowledge is a boost to self esteem. Not only will the employer end up with a more skilled employee but they will also benefit from a more dedicated team member with a positive, ambitious attitude.
- Although salary is an important part when candidates are searching for a new position, attitude from senior management and fellow workers plays a significant role. We benefit from great teamwork in hospitality and team members will be less inclined to search for pastures new if they feel that their contribution is valued by both their peers and senior management.
- Attitude is everything! Enthusiasm and positivity are the key ingredients to look for when recruiting. Any gaps in knowledge can be filled through training.
- Within the hospitality industry, those of us that have been lucky enough to create a career have a duty to spread the word! Hospitality still carries the reputation of being a holiday job, a stepping stone to something better. It is important to get the message across to those coming into the industry and their advisors (parents / teachers / lecturers) that hard work and a smiling face is a passport to quick promotion.
Kate Nicholls, CEO - UKHospitality
'We need to attract new people to our sector and highlight the benefits of a job or career in hospitality'
Prior to the pandemic, we employed 3.2m people and were the third largest private sector employer in the UK. As the voice of the industry, UKH has been working closely with Government on implementing our 12-point employment plan, the sector can restore confidence and bounce back even stronger, so hospitality is once again seen as a dynamic and exciting sector of growth, and a provider of fulfilling careers that will help power the UK’s economic and social recovery. From a UKH member survey based on 240 companies, there are currently 188,000 open vacancies across the industry (this is likely to have increased).
Causes of shortage include:
- Confidence – the delay in reopening
- Furlough – people remaining on furlough or working second jobs
- Immigration policy – the impact of the new policy from 1st January 2020
- Travel restrictions – people stranded abroad, either unable to travel or unable to afford to travel
- Test & Trace – a huge rise in ‘pings’, meaning staff are having to self-isolate
UKH welcome new members to join here and are offering the following recruitment initiatives to help hoteliers:
- UKH Pathway – free online learning platform to upskill hospitality staff
- Working with UKH supplier members - UKH supplier members provide a range of support services to assist with recruitment, retention, payroll, training and much more
- Hospitality Workforce hub - collation of all the available industry resources and tools in one place to help you recruit to fill those vital vacancies https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/HospitalityEmployment
"Recruit outside our industry and hire on attitude as skills can be trained"
"Hotels are big operations & there are many new roles in marketing, finance, sales that we need to highlight"
"It’s essential to communicate to your staff that their wellbeing is your first priority"
"Those of us working in hospitality have a duty to spread the word"
- Kate Fuller, Marketing Manager, Guestline
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