It is well known that hospitality already has one of the highest employee turnover rates of any industry. This not only has significant cost implications for staff recruitment, but can negatively impact morale and productivity too. Now the uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit on EU labour migration is compounding the already considerable challenges around staff retention and recruitment for hotel operators.
Rising costs, including staff costs driven higher by national minimum wage legislation, limit the affordability of offering financial incentives to retain staff. In any case financial incentives are by no means the only motivating factor for staff. Other, more creative approaches are therefore necessary and the following factors are becoming critical for hoteliers looking to hold on to their key people.
Make the company’s values clear and concise, such that staff can readily identify with them. Engagement with those values is an important first step in sharing the business’ goals and targets with the workforce, as well as an understanding of the effort and way of working that is necessary to achieve them.
Values also involve leading by example. In larger hotel businesses this may involve managers occasionally working back on the floor alongside frontline staff. In smaller independent hotels, where this may already occur naturally, an owner operator shouldn’t be asking staff to do anything they would not be prepared to do themselves.
Open and accessible channels of communication for staff are fundamental to raising their awareness of what is going on in the business, thus making them feel they are involved and that they can make an impact. Online employee platforms which promote two-way communication, provide message board facilities and enable interaction between staff work well for large organisations. These should be easily accessible on mobile devices – the employees of the future are tech savvy. In smaller businesses, regular interactive staff briefings as well as one-to-ones with management can promote dialogue and inclusivity.
These forums should welcome queries, discussion and feedback on all aspects of working practices. But there should be an emphasis on fun too – adding a social element can encourage staff bonding and interaction. One of the key reference points for employee satisfaction is the emotional attachment to co-workers, particularly for younger people still constructing their social circles.
Support and development
Hospitality has a reputation for stop-gap, short-term employment – easy to find but low paid, with long hours and largely unfavourable working conditions. In actual fact opportunities are rife in this industry with ample scope to develop financial, people and creative skills. This can lead to rapid progression into roles of responsibility and, for the right people, on into planned career pathways including management, accountancy, catering and HR.
Hotel businesses should leverage these attributes if they want to attract and retain key talent. A clear outline of the opportunities for progression and career development should be promoted together with a framework of the training and support that is available along the way. Cooperation from government and learning institutions would certainly be welcomed in this respect. The apprenticeship levy is of course a first step – apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular and could be a game-changer for the sector.
Offering flexible working practices is also important. Adjusting an employee’s working hours to suit their personal needs can make all the difference between retaining or losing them. Finding ways to keep good people is ultimately less expensive and time consuming than having to recruit replacements.
Recognition and reward need not always be financial. Publicised recognition for contribution to the business, employee of the month prizes or length of service awards can all incentivise loyalty to the business as well as improving morale and motivating better performance.
Many hospitality businesses will need to implement change in order to face the potential threat of Brexit on their workforce head-on. By taking an approach focused on retaining their current valuable members of staff, hotel owners can take recruitment matters into their own hands.