Viewpoint: training is the key to staff retention

26 July 2019 by

Hospitality careers provide great opportunities for on-the-job training, but as David Cochrane explains, this must be matched by formal learning programmes.

The hospitality industry is known for its accessible nature. Starting out in entry-level positions, with little to no qualifications, hospitality workers can steadily work their way up the ladder.

Alongside practical training, inspirational development should be on hand. Programmes like these encourage creativity and inspire talented individuals to improve their skills, as well as drawing attention to wellbeing in the workplace.

With the support of organisations like the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland, businesses can come together to instigate change and improvement in our industry. By sponsoring scholarships that support tomorrow's workforce, businesses can contribute to the future of their industry. These scholarships can range from management development and core skills to the personal side of development and inspirational empowerment.

While our industry values on-the-job experience, we need to get better at recognising the significance of formal training. Too often, owners and managers neglect to adopt an official training programme for new entrants, instead providing ad-hoc training. This diminishes employees' potential and is to the detriment of the industry in the long term.

Initial and ongoing training is necessary to make employees feel supported. A Gallup survey found that 59% of millennials say that opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job. By investing in developing employees' skills, they will see the job as a true career prospect instead of just a temporary position. Hilton Worldwide University is a brilliant example of a company investing in ongoing training - of course, not every business has Hilton's budget, but with the volume of quality online training opportunities on offer today, employee development has never been so accessible.

Training opportunities or scholarships can have a profound effect on the recipient's life - consider the recent collaboration between HIT and Shared Care Scotland's Respitality project, which saw a young carer given a two-day scholarship in the kitchen of the Grand Central hotel in Glasgow. Having dreamt of a career in catering, this opportunity has kickstarted the scholar's career and, more importantly, given her a sense of self confidence.

Hospitality-wide events bring together the leaders of the hospitality industry with new entrants, making them the perfect place to share best practice and learn from the success of others. By learning from one another, we can raise awareness that personal development is vital to employee happiness and retention, benefiting our sector as a whole.

It is crucial that managers form an ongoing training programme that takes into account employees' personal and practical development, so that they can adapt to the ever-changing demands of our industry. Monitoring and motivating this development are key ways to inspire positive change, ultimately making employees happier and more productive people.

David Cochrane is chief executive at Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland

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