4 steps to recruiting staff in the hospitality industry as we emerge from Covid-19
As I m sure you are aware, the hospitality industry in Ireland and around the world has been severely impacted by the virus. Thousands of businesses closed for long periods over the last 18 months and hundreds of thousands of staff let go, with a lot still left unemployed. With employers and staff in fear, this article may help more than you realise.
As we recruit within the hospitality sector, we hear first-hand accounts from our clients of how challenging it is to find staff right now. Companies are struggling to fill a role on all levels, from Kitchen Porters to Duty Managers right up to Head Chefs. It’s unusual that an industry made up of low salaried workers has become an ‘employee driven’ market. What do I mean by that? Well, it means that employees now have the upper hand in the recruitment process. It’s now not unusual for a worker to be counter-offered by their existing employer, who is too afraid to let them go, and gain a substantial increase in their base salary, or a bidding war ensues between two Hotels to secure their services.
How did this come about? It’s a cocktail of a few things ( apologies for using this pun, but I just had to!).
-PUP payment– If you have any industry that is reliant on lower-salaried workers for the majority of the roles, such as Bar, F&B and accommodation staff, it’s difficult to find available and willing talent if they are still receiving the PUP payment, especially if the marginal difference in the take-home pay is €50-€100 per week. This is not a slur on workers currently on the PUP, it is just a statement of fact.
-Covid-19- certain aspects of hospitality recruitment can be seasonal and it requires the movement of people from other counties and countries. Currently, people are unwilling to move because there is a fear that Covid-19 lockdowns could return and they could be stuck in a new city or town without a job! A real genuine concern here and from the point of view of the employee, can you blame them?
-Working from Home (WFH)/industry uncertainty- As you cannot ‘Work from Home’ in the Hospitality sector – a lot of hospitality staff are looking longingly at the flexibility people in other sectors now and will have in their working life, post Covid-19. Adding to that the uncertainty in the sector in the future, workers are considering a move away from the industry into other more secure professions or sectors in which they can work from home.
Ok, I’ve been harping on enough about things you don’t have control over and if you are reading this and are hiring in the hospitality space, then, you are probably scrolling down to what actionable things you can do to help against this. Here are a few points which will hopefully help:
-Be flexible- We are in a very unique situation where almost every hotel in Ireland is looking for similar staff, at the same time. This is leading to all kinds of issues with hiring staff. A simple solution is to be flexible around peoples’ experience levels or their skill sets. In the services industry, there are a lot of transferable skills. Don’t ‘silo’ the workforce, consider everyone individually and where they might ‘fit’ elsewhere in the business. Having difficulty getting accommodation staff? Why not recruit someone with no accommodation experience and get them trained up quickly?
-Contract staffing- This current crisis won’t last forever and hopefully things will revert back to ‘normal. A possible solution is paying above the market rate for candidates in those niche roles now, but using fixed contracts for 6 or 12 months. This way, they get their higher salary and you don’t get into a situation where you are paying someone in a permanent contract, who is well above the market rate when salaries recalibrate to the way they were.
-Offer perks- All hotels like to think of themselves as being unique, but to the potential employee who is being bombarded with job offers, sometimes, they can be hard to tell apart. So how does a hotel stand out from the crowd? An easy way is to offer perks to differentiate yourself. Examples of this can be anything from Healthcare insurance for staff, access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), allowing staff to use the gym/pool facilities onsite, increasing annual leave days per year, offering a day off for the employee on their birthday. Hilton was Fortune’s Best Hotel to work for last year in the US primarily because they expanded parental leave to 12 paid weeks for new mothers and 4 weeks for fathers. Other company perks included deeply discounted rates when staying at their hotels.
-Employer Branding- Avoid bidding wars with other hotels for staff – there are no winners here! Instead focus on your Employee Value Proposition – especially around the non-financial benefits – culture, advancement, training etc. Working in the Hospitality sector is often stereotyped as low-wage and entry-level with little opportunity for career advancement. To attract the best staff, you need to have a great culture and a strong Employer Brand. During the recruitment process, it is important to highlight your commitment to internal communication & keeping employees informed, providing a work-life balance, your commitment to Diversity & Inclusion and the Environment. Unfortunately, for some hotels in the industry, the way they handled Covid-19 and their staff during it, is now coming back to bite them. People want to work from a company that appreciates them and who shares their values. Check out our latest article on how to build a strong employer brand for more information.
by Mark Loughnane, Operations Director @ Yala