Finding dedicated workers and retaining them once they are trained has always been a challenge for the hospitality industry, but in today’s economic and social climate, there is no time to waste in retraining workers to lose them. short term. In a market where acquiring skilled workers is the greatest challenge, retaining them becomes imperative.
According to Edward Gallier, head of learning and development at Jurys Inn & Leonardo Hotels UK & Ireland, a number of former hotel workers have been forced to find new positions during the pandemic. A significant portion of them are not returning to the hospitality industry or are actively considering new sectors.
“The hotel industry must fight for its place in the recruiting market,” said Gallier. “People today make sure the next job they take is reliable and matches the lifestyle they’ve found for themselves over the past 14 months. “
Hoteliers will need to embrace digital communications technology in order to onboard new employees and stay in touch with existing associates in the months to come. On the one hand, digital communications can help automate part of the onboarding process, freeing up managers to continue operating their properties at a high level. They also allow management to stay in touch with all associates to keep them abreast of operational changes, schedule changes or to disseminate training tips.
The turnover in the hospitality industry currently creates a number of unique challenges for operators, as hotels are excellent training grounds for the development of various professional skills, which often leave the industry and never return. According to Sandy Gentles, vice president of Talent Point at Marriott International, hoteliers must make communication a key theme in employee retention and finding new employees.
“The key words right now are change, expectations and communications,” said Gentles. “Everything about the way we do business on the property has changed. We need to communicate directly with frontline return associates to find out what these changes are and why. “
Gentles clarified that this should be an ongoing process, as the hospitality industry is an ever-changing industry and associates may need weekly or even daily updates in order to function at the highest level in certain markets. Gallier endorsed this strategy and challenged operators to foster a positive internal culture and a willingness to teach through better internal communication.
“People will choose employers based on their reputation, but at the end of the day, employers need to create an attractive position, with a corporate culture that shows workers this is a great place,” said Gallier. “The hotel industry has always had these elements, but in a demanding market, it is necessary to find ways to stand out. A good employer will do more to make their roles attractive.
Over the past year, frontline hotel workers have adapted to face masks, the plastic barriers erected between themselves and guests, and sanitation guidelines that seemed to change every day. With increasing immunization rates and the slow recovery of the global economy, further changes are inevitable. Hoteliers need to stay on top of changes in the travel ecosystem, and they need to be able to quickly, efficiently and confidently share this information with guests and employees.
Across the industry, hoteliers have found ways to “do more with less”. Fewer customers meant less equipment and services, lower prices but also lower operating costs. Today, hoteliers are being asked to do more with fewer associates, and this is simply not possible without the use of advanced communication technologies. With it, your hotel can operate at a high standard with a more efficient team size, while keeping those workers engaged.
Employee engagement comes in many forms. According to Gentles, operators showing a willingness to provide small concessions in order to improve an associate’s work or family life go a long way in maintaining their interest in the property.
“Due to the pandemic, it has been necessary to show more flexibility in working with employees, as everyone’s life has been disrupted,” Gentles said. “As hoteliers, we need to do everything we can to keep our best people on site. Something as simple as designing a schedule that allows parents to spend more time with their children, or even arrange for child care when the children come home from school, could remove barriers to employment in the hotel industry for many.
Digital communication tools like Beekeeper’s are great for organizing such schedules, allowing management to stay up to date on the status and needs of each employee. By organizing schedules in this way, all hotel employees will be systematically informed of who is working when, who needs help covering shifts, and how to get in touch with anyone needed.
“Having a strong and effective team has never been so important,” said Gallier. “The number of people in a shift team is significantly lower. [Associates] need additional knowledge about the products and services available, need to stay informed of the lifting of restrictions and be able to share this information competently with customers and colleagues. They can achieve this through support with data, technology and their line manager. “
Employees who bounce back
Teamwork has never been more important than it is today, and as employees on leave gradually retire from the property, hotel management will need to bridge the gap that may have formed. between them and the workers who remained during the pandemic. Gallier clarified that the two groups of employees have been forced to overcome different challenges during the pandemic, and the two must be treated uniquely in order for workers to feel valued.
“People were forced to overcome great mental and physical fatigue during this time, and now some of them are returning to work,” said Gallier. “Everyone has handled the pandemic in their own way, but returning employees are coming back to a very different work environment than they are used to. Employers cannot minimize the importance of this element.
It has often been said that those who have returned to the hospitality industry are the workers who really want to be there, but Gentles cautioned the industry against relying on this way of thinking as a crutch to avoid facing to the current labor shortage and the challenge of retention around the corner.
” When we say [workers] are coming back for the passion, it is only so far that this attitude will bring us to this rehiring, ”said Gentles. “We have to understand what drives their job search this time around, and it will be different for every associate and every market, but we have to become more efficient at understanding what those drivers are.”
Returning workers must also find commonalities with those who stayed during the pandemic, as the two groups had markedly different experiences after the workers’ leave. Beekeeper’s technology can help new and returning employees stay in touch to speed up the onboarding process for each role, while providing a communication platform for employees to build relationships. These tools are also useful in helping existing employees to familiarize themselves with newly developed roles during the workforce shortage.
“[There is a need for] a team that can work across departments, cross roles and have a better understanding and empathy for colleagues in different roles, ”said Gallier.
The biggest trend going forward is the need for hoteliers to make their properties destinations not only for reservations, but also for applicants. This means flexibility where it did not exist before, a willingness to understand the hotel employee as much as the hotel guest and a desire to provide hospitality to everyone under the roof of your own. property. Most importantly, hotels should use the visibility offered by modern video and social media to market their property’s value and the potential for future growth within the industry.
According to Gallier, the long-term impact of work disruptions will be the rewriting of hotel roles, creating an environment that enables collaboration across the property, supported by shared learning of hotel skills.
“[Hospitality] has always been a company where it’s easy to move sideways based on associate interests, and we have ladders in place for promotion and personal development, ”said Gallier. “We are starting to build teams within hotels capable of working across multiple departments and roles, based on the training we can provide both on-site and digitally. “
Gentles is optimistic about the future of hospitality employment and looks forward to the growing search for talent by the hospitality industry outside the usual channels.
“Open the door to have [outside workers] entering the hotel industry is a game-changer, ”said Gentles. “We have the technology and the system in place to ensure that anyone with a welcoming spirit is successful on the property. If we can connect with the right personality, the sky is the limit.
Even as the industry overcomes the current hiring challenge it faces, hoteliers will face the challenge of doing more with less and retaining these workers. Gentles and Gallier both agreed that technology and the willingness to experiment with new operational strategies are essential to overcome these challenges. The hospitality industry has just emerged from one of the most difficult periods in its history, and the tools exist to help operators continue to be successful even in a landscape dominated by constant change.
About the Author
Andrada Paraschiv is Vice President of Hospitality for Beekeeper, a mobile communications platform designed for frontline workers that reaches every shift, location and language through real-time messaging, targeted flows and workflows. automated.