The happiness of staff is not just fundamental to retaining your workforce, but also for driving profitability, says Simon Numphud
In the AA Hotel & Hospitality Services’ recent survey, it was deeply encouraging to see the extent to which the British public care about staff wellbeing when choosing a hotel. Showing that happy staff make for happy holidays, the study revealed that eight in 10 holidaymakers believe guest experience is improved if staff are well looked after, with 78% saying they would be less inclined to book somewhere they thought had poor working conditions.
The study also revealed that over 50% of holidaymakers thought the industry should be doing more to encourage people into careers in hospitality services. At a time when less than a quarter of young people say they would consider a career in hospitality, according to an InterContinental Hotels Group study, and with People 1st reporting that we will need to recruit 1.3 million staff by 2024, not to mention the impact that Brexit may have on EU staff retention, our industry is under considerable pressure to attract and retain the best talent – and the happiness of staff is fundamental to this.
As someone who has worked in hospitality throughout my career, I have experienced first-hand how rewarding it is to be part of this vibrant, creative and dynamic sector. As the fifth-largest employer in the UK, the hospitality sector is unique in the incredible wealth of possibilities it presents to candidates of all backgrounds, both with and without qualifications. It is a sector where individuals with motivation, commitment and enthusiasm to learn can go far, and quickly. Working in hospitality equips staff with a wide range of skills, while offering a stimulating working environment where no two days are the same, with opportunities to work and travel abroad (something which many international hotel groups actively promote), immense job satisfaction and much more.
But with the Best Western Careers Index report showing that careers in hospitality were among the 10 least-preferred careers for parents, it is clear that we as an industry need to work to change perceptions and make hospitality the industry of choice for young people.
To achieve this, it is more important than ever that we are engaging with prospective candidates at grass-roots level, both locally and nationally, by working with schools, colleges, universities and catering colleges to raise awareness of the incredibly diverse range of opportunities hospitality presents to young people. Additionally, supporting major initiatives such as Springboard’s Future Chef, The Caterer’s Think Again and the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ National Adopt a School Week, is a great way of reaching young people, and ensuring our collective voices are heard.
Whichever approach is best for each individual organisation, offering fantastic staff wellbeing needs to be at the heart of our collective recruitment strategy in order to encourage the best and brightest to choose and stick with hospitality, with the added benefit that having happy staff leads to happy guests, and ultimately drives profitability.
Simon Numphud is the managing director of AA Hotel & Hospitality Services