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How to… be a best place to work in hospitality

15 July 2016
How to… be a best place to work in hospitality

After Valor Hospitality Europe took home the Best Employer Award Catey last week, Jon Reed of Purple Cubed takes a look at the data gleaned from the Best Places to Work in Hospitality survey to see what businesses can learn about keeping their staff happy

In April The Caterer revealed and celebrated the Top 30 Best Places to Work in Hospitality, held in partnership with Purple Cubed, at a fast-paced, half-day conference that focused on employee engagement. It took key
insights from The Caterer's Best Places to Work survey, which was completed by employees as a way of rating their employer.

This year's survey was the biggest ever and measured a range of business-critical aspects, including what makes a hospitality business a great place to work, what is recognised as being done well and areas for improvement.
The insights resulted in the compilation of the Best Places list and the ‘best of the best' were subsequently entered for the prestigious Best Employer Catey award. As all responses are anonymous and confidential, the results are honest and frank. Participating companies receive clear summaries and easy-to-use reporting.

Overall results are compiled in order to show industry trends and information. In terms of the findings, hospitality businesses once again were rated highly for paying on time (see What are hospitality businesses good at?), respecting people and the quality of induction programmes.

‘Trusting managers' enters the list of top qualities for the first time this year, demonstrating that hospitality businesses are creating empowerment cultures where their people are encouraged and trusted to do what is right for the business. And when asked what makes a hospitality business a great place to work, ‘team respect' has been the number one factor two years in a row (see What makes a hospitality business a great place to work?).

Once again, the increasing importance of a ‘positive working environment' was second priority, echoing Deloitte's assertion that company culture is a top global business issue. The necessity of creating a culture with strong values, embedding this within the business and recruiting according to these values is essential in ensuring your business has the right people driving this culture.

Culture is therefore at the heart of competitive advantage; setting the tone for everything that happens within an organisation. It defines how your people behave and how your teams interact, driving the business towards success.

As Soho House chief executive Martin Kuczmarski says in Jane Sunley's book The People Formula: "It's so important to create a strong and recognisable culture. This is not just about having printed collateral and so on; it's about keeping the message simple. It's about making sure that everyone, from the highest level down, ‘lives it' on a continuous basis."

Create a positive working environment

A critical step to creating a positive working environment is embedding a business culturedriven by value. The first step is ensuring that, as a business, you set clear expectations It's important that everyone is working towards a common goal, and that it is clearly articulated, with outcomes and standards well-defined from the outset.

Second, it's important to ensure leaders, at all levels, live your values every day. Leaders are true role models for the shared mission and purpose, who will spread the word through constant personal contact and communication with others.

to feel they are able to share their ideas and speak openly without fear of repercussion and that their thoughts, opinions and what they are doing adds value.

A key part of driving this culture forward is incorporating these values in recruiting talent. In The People Formula, Jane Sunley maps out 12 key steps to productive, profitable, performing business, underpinned by employee
engagement. She suggests: "use values in recruitment: expect every candidate to be familiar with them from their research. Ask prospective employees how they feel they could relate the values of the company to the role on offer. Look them in the eye and ask whether they can give 100% commitment to upholding these values."

What now?

For the first time this year, the survey identified areas where hospitality businesses should focus their attention in order to become better places to work. The priorities were:

â- Fair pay
â- Low carbon footprint
â- Two-way communication
â- Involvement in decisions which affect my job
â- Clear job descriptions
â- Better use of technology

While areas such as 'fair pay' and a 'low carbon footprint' may require longer-term strategies, there are other areas which can be effectively addressed with simple tactics.

'Two-way communication' features high on the list, and is one of those things that any business in any industry can look to improve. Another insight from the survey is that people in hospitality want greater involvement in
decisions which affect their jobs. The two could be linked, as when you open the doors to two-way communication, you open your business up to all avenues of feedback. If employees feel encouraged to share their feedback, they are likely to feel greater involvement in decisions made within the business. You have to manage expectations throughout, however, and keep up whatever you start.

"In the same way that your culture and values are the glue that sticks everything together, clear communication must also run as a thread through all that you do," says Sunley in The People Formula.

With the growing volume of digital natives in the hospitality workforce, it's now more critical than ever that businesses embrace technology to support their people strategy. Digital technology, in the form of a talent management system, for instance, can help to create that two-way communication and contribute to achieving a host of other important factors leading to true employee engagement.

As Sunley explains: "Talent management is about attracting, identifying, engaging, developing, progressing and retaining your people, making use of their skills and knowledge in the best way for both individual and organisation.

A talent management system will help you to do this by digitising the processes and bringing about a bottom-up approach."

The Best Places to Work in Hospitality survey results are essential reading for any business striving to become a become a true employer of choice.

What makes a hospitality business a great place to work? 1 Team respect (1)
2 Produce results (2)
3 Work/life balance (3)
4 A positive working environment (6)
5 Good communication (4)
6 Paying on time (-)
( ) indicates last year's results

What are hospitality businesses good at? 1 Paying on time (1)
2 Respect for their people (2)
3 Induction programmes (3)
4 Diverse employment (-)
5 A clear mission and purpose (4)
6 Trusting managers (-)
( ) indicates last year's results

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