Overcoming Workforce Challenges in Hospitality
November 4, 2022
The hospitality industry is facing a different workforce landscape than ever before. Many in the industry often list staffing as the most difficult aspect of running a successful operation. The recent pandemic added to this challenge, as many workers left the hospitality industry during the shutdowns. The reduced workforce combined with the post-shutdown surge of travel is forcing the operators to rethink everything about acquiring and retaining quality staff.
The recent increase of remote work is further reducing the amount of people looking for on-site hospitality positions. As the dynamic of the workforce changes, you are left with two choices, adapt or fade. Simply blaming the labor shortage on laziness and angrily continuing the old ways of thinking will not solve the issue. This is the new normal, and below are some ways to fill your staff with people that will ensure your guests have a great experience.
Rethink the Hiring Process
In order to adapt, we have to expand and improve the way we go about finding and keeping talent. Here are some areas in which we can rethink the approach.
In the past resumes were filtered based on past experience in the exact field. Not only does this severely limit the pool of potential candidates but it is also not effective at determining who will be excellent at the job. Past experience does not automatically translate to excellence. Therefore do not limit the search to those with prior experience. Be willing to train anyone with the right spirit. Try adding new sections to the application such as, what they enjoy, passions, times they feel most fulfilled. The key is to find ways to narrow the field down to people that have potential for hospitality excellence.
In the past many employers have over-valued conventional education. College degrees are often used as a filter that may leave you missing out on great potential.
How much formal education is necessary to perform the job? A great attitude will impact your guest more than a college degree.
In fact, there is a lot to be said for bringing in people with different work experience that can provide a fresh perspective on the way we do things.
Look past the surface to find people with a genuine desire to serve others. It’s been said that hospitality can’t be taught. Hard working, dependable, and kind teammates may look different than what you would have thought. Diverse backgrounds across your team makes the experience richer and better rounded.
This part of the hiring process will tell the candidate a lot about the environment the would be joining. Take time to get to know who they are as a person. Avoid stereotypical interview questions that tend to produce robotic answers. Instead of a sterile questioning from across the desk or conference room table, go out for lunch or coffee. Exercise hospitality and set the stage for the type of environment you want to create.
Create Passion and Purpose
Employers today have to go above and beyond to attract and keep a healthy team. Simply offering a competitive wage is no longer enough. Here are some ideas to help layer on a positive working environment.
Creating buy-in for your employees is key to getting their best effort. Involve staff in as many decisions as possible. People naturally have a passion for the success of their own ideas. Often they will see things from a different perspective and can provide ideas from someone who deals with the reality of the process or issue. Overall key is to make sure each person feels they are a valuable asset and not just a machine carrying out meaningless task.
Create consistent incentive to strive for excellence. Human nature tends to do the minimum possible to get the desired results. If not getting fired is the primary external motivator you will have a workforce that does the bare minimum to achieve that goal. Positive motivation beyond salary is key. Let the workers share in the success of the business. Create monthly bonus plans based on overall company success. Overall key is to make sure the employees feel rewarded for excellent work or they will not continue to provide it.
Variety & Upward Mobility
People get bored easily, and will look to change employers if that is their only option for change. Help your employees prevent burnout by providing constant opportunities to change responsibilities and tasks. While this will require more hours of training, it is a great investment for building a stronger more well-rounded work force. The extensive and voluntary cross training will also provide value in the case of sickness, vacation, or other reasons for being short-staffed. Finding ways to reduce the reasons your employees would want to look for employment with other companies is what’s important.
No one wants to come into a toxic or stressful environment day after day. Find ways to reduce stress and foster collaboration. Make sure new employees have the sufficient training to avoid the overwhelming fear of failing. Assign a senior employee to be the mentor and pay them for the mentorship. Invest in the people the way you want them to invest in the business. Show the hospitality to the employees that you want them to show the guest. The overall key is making sure people know what to do, how to do it and that they know who to reach out to when issues arise.
These ideas are just a few of the many ways the industry can adapt to the new environment. Keep an open mind to any other previously unconventional ideas. Poll your current workforce and then tailor a plan that meets their specific needs. There is no one-size-fits-all answer; you must get creative to provide benefits that actually benefit each individual. To keep things financially reasonable you may offer a choice between several additional incentives like education vouchers, childcare, unique schedule, meals, or housing. Just remember the world has changed and creativity is the key to finding a path forward.
Dustin started the company that would become Longitude°. With a deep focus in creating the methodology and processes that would become known as BrandGPS™. He is always striving to find ways to bring value to those around him and passionately focused on helping solve extremely complex brand challenges.