Hospitality is facing a huge recruitment drive from a reduced pool of candidates, so how can you make your offer stand out, asks Jane Sunley
A cross vast swathes of the hospitality industry, there’s something of a recurring theme – skills shortages threatened by Brexit. But beyond just panicking, there are some creative solutions that can be implemented to ensure your business is as attractive as possible to the available workforce.
We’ve had staffing crises before and we’ll have them again, so this is now less about panicking and more about finding different and creative solutions.
The smart companies communicated with their people as soon as news of the Leave vote was announced. That horse might have bolted, but there is still much to be done to reassure people that, even if some of the UK’s population might not value them, you certainly do and you will look after them to the very best of your ability.
Traditionally, applicants responded to job adverts or offered unsolicited applications, but now it’s necessary for you to go out and find the best talent.
Instead of bemoaning the fact that recruiting the right staff has become harder and costlier, you need to put your time and energy into being more creative.
Widen your reach
Perhaps it’s time to fish in more UK-oriented pools? Some recent industry networking groups yielded only two from a total of more than 40 leaders who were actively recruiting via a minority recruitment source. Aside from the more obvious choices, such as job centres, social media, Adopt a School and the use of recruitment consultants – all of which have their place – there are plenty of alternative labour pools out there, with a host of charities and jobs sites to support them.
For example, ask your people to introduce you to their older friends and relatives, and let them know that you would welcome their skills and attributes – people don’t suddenly stop learning or wanting to progress as soon as they turn 50. These experienced and reliable candidates could enrich your customer offer and provide an opportunity to act as role models and offer their experience to others, thus strengthening the team dynamic.
There are also more than 10,000 people leaving care in the UK every year – vulnerable people who would welcome the opportunity to gain some stability and the chance to make a living in the hospitality industry. The same applies to the many disadvantaged people within our society, or ex-offenders who, through the Clink charity, have been trained specifically for kitchen and front-of-house careers. Keep an eye on the news and contact those companies that are making redundancies, even if they’re not in your industry, as there may be transferable skills. And, of course, don’t forget parents returning to work. The important thing is not to dash in with a blanket approach. Instead, find an organisation that seems most aligned to where you want to get to and take the time to form a relationship that will be mutually beneficial.
The most powerful solution of all
Of course, if you could make your company a great place to work and retain the talented people you already employ, there would be less need to recruit, so, notwithstanding all of the above, this is the place to target your efforts. We would argue that, in this climate, perhaps more than ever before, it’s business-critical; it’s good for you and it’s good for the industry.
This is not something that can be fixed by roadshows, learning or initiatives, it’s about having a simple, yet robust and practical plan, identifying the quick wins and working gradually towards the bigger stuff.
Jane Sunley is founder and chair of Purple Cubed
Ten steps to better recruitment
1 Always be on the lookout for talent – any time, any place, anywhere
2 Use your network and find out where your desired talent goes and go there (or find out what they read, do or enjoy)
3 Incentivise not only your current employees to make introductions, but everyone you know
4 Make your application process fast and engaging, so that you don’t miss an opportunity to snap up your ideal candidate
5 Search social networks for the type of people you need and reach out to them
6 Offer paid internships to school-leavers and others
7 Visit schools and try promotions, such as flyers in your community
8 Contact alumni networks
9 Get together with other employers to run bigger, better careers fairs
10 Consider widening your geographical reach