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What are you doing to win the talent war?

We all know the scenario… you place an Ad for a job… you get a trickle of replies… you struggle to find a few candidates good enough to interview… then some don’t even turn up to the meeting… then you hire… potentially pay high recruitment fees through an agency and voila! 6 months later that member of staff leaves and you are back in the same wheel of recruitment pain all over again… So what is going wrong?

First of all, I am sure that few would disagree that the simple fact is that we have less and less talent coming into hospitality.  Couple that with a global increase in hotel rooms and you have a funnel with less people trickling in and more and more competition for the few that make it.

So why aren’t we attracting the talent?  In my humble opinion I believe there are two fundamental reasons.  The first being that young people now see a changing landscape of job opportunities.   Software engineering, game design, data analysis, renewable energy, film making, art & design, banking… these are all ‘hot’ careers at the moment.  Ten years ago most of the jobs young people go into now didn’t even exist and the same will be true in another 10 years.  So how on earth does hospitality compete? Well this leads me to my second reason and that is hospitality simply isn’t ‘cool’.

A year or so ago, I had the privilege of listening to one of sports greatest influencers – Joe Schmidt, Coach of Ireland Rugby. He was asked to explain how he attracted great talent into the team and his answer was simple: simply be the best team that everyone wants to be part of.  And how do we do that as hoteliers? Well we start with the culture.  Do you have a culture that people would want to be part of and what exactly does culture mean?

In my humble opinion, it starts with the interview process.  How do you write your job ad’s?  What is the overall tone of your content? Does it reflect who you are as a business and the kind of candidate you are looking for?  Hire for the attitude, train for the skill is a great mantra to recruit by but is this reflected in your Ad?

Then what about training.  So often I see hotels shove an employee handbook in a new-start’s hands and then walk away expecting on-the-job training.  That I am afraid to say is no longer acceptable.  New employees expect and deserve proper training, mentoring and support.  What will they learn week 1? week 2 and so on… Who is taking them through that process?  Whether it is office based or operational, your whole team need a proper, structured training plan and induction.  I recommend having a professional help you put these training plans together.  Have the work signed off each week and take each member of staff through every part of their role which of course includes the level of service you expect.  Whether it is how to deal with a complaint, pour a coffee or make a bed, each member of your team needs to know not only what the culture of your business expects but what each individual customer expects.

Staff also need to feel valued in other ways and for most the greatest reward is career progression.  Do you make it clear to your team how they can progress not just in their job role but also salary scale?  If you have a training programme in place, is it certified?  Can your team work towards a qualification?  All of these things are important and supplying a structured training programme is one of the easiest ways to motivate and reward your team and of course you as the provider also gain by having a highly trained, highly motivated team.

Many, actually most team members now aspire to the allusive work/life balance. Can you as an employer help with that?  Flexible working hours? Family friendly working? On-site accommodation if you are in a remote location? We are a 24 hour industry and flexible working isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible either.  As an example, we recognise the long hours that chefs work and many hotels are removing ‘split shifts’ and allowing perhaps longer hours to be worked over a shorter number of days.

We all like to be rewarded and that may be as simple as a pizza or a bottle of wine to say ‘thanks for a job well done’ but could you consider an actual staff reward scheme if you see someone going-the-extra-mile?

Are you providing an environment where your team have the best tools to do their jobs? Simple things such as hoovers that work or kitchen equipment that is up to date make a huge difference to how someone does their job.  Do your office team have up to date technology?  Have you invested in systems and software that could enhance their job.  One of the easiest ways to understand what your team need is to ask. When was the last time you did that?   I recently asked my team to audit my business and to tell me individually if there was anything they felt we could improve.  We are a technology company and the responses were fascinating – and we are starting to implement changes as a result of some of the suggestions made. If I can recommend one thing that will change your business is to ask the question, ‘what could we do to improve how you do your job, what tools, help or support do you need?’.

Your team are your greatest asset. Retaining them is much easier and cheaper than hiring, so be the best employer you can be!

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