With rapid change in the recruitment and retention landscape fuelled by low unemployment and the shadow of Brexit, hospitality businesses must work harder than ever to retain their talent. We round up the trends that mean you stay ahead of the market
Power shift in employment
It's a buyers' market out there. Unemployment is down and hospitality businesses have to work harder than ever to make their employment opportunities attractive.
But, according to Purple Cubed, many organisations still lack comprehensive people strategies that will help attract, engage and retain team members. Chair Jane Sunley advises: "Put in place a joined-up people strategy that is achievable yet stretching. Start with the big stuff, such as comms and your people promise, then move onto tactics such as development. In addition, operators must make sure their culture and values weave through the entire employee journey like a beautiful, unbreakable, golden thread."
Those who are able to demonstrate a strong culture with leaders committed to the cause are best placed to prosper.
As mentioned above, today's employee can now pick and choose their employer. This means that recruitment processes are ripe for a rethink. In this fast-moving world, nobody wants to attend numerous interviews and wait weeks for a response.
As a result, hospitality firms are coming up with more engaging ways to attract staff. For example, the London Edition hotel has used a cocktail party approach for a big push. It hasn't replaced the formal interview process completely, but supplemented it with a new way of attracting potential employees.
"We also give colleagues business cards, so when they are out and about and they receive good service, they can hand out a card and suggest they get in touch. We have had good results." Gender pay parity This really should be a no-brainer for all businesses, and thankfully hospitality firms have fared fairly well in the gender pay gap league, although in some sectors there is yet more that can be done. This year may well be remembered as one when women came close to achieving parity, with the new legislation forcing employers to think more carefully about their recruitment practices. Organisations with 250 or more employees have had to publish the gap in hourly pay between men and women, with *The Caterer*'s analysis finding that in hospitality, women's median hourly rate is 1% lower than men across the sector. This might be far below the national average of 9.7% but, despite positive headline figures for the industry, many operators have acknowledged that they have work to do, particularly regarding the representation of women in senior roles. Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, says: "Hospitality is a meritocratic sector, offering rapid career progression and it can be financially rewarding and incredibly enjoyable work. We will continue endeavouring to attract a diverse workforce into the many varied roles in the sector and hope that this favourable spotlight of the gender pay gap figures helps." Much has been done to attract returning to work mothers, but there remains the challenge for operators to support more women to take on the top jobs. Artificial intelligence Robots aren't going to be serving crÁªpes Suzette at the table any time soon, but there are a growing number of applications where artificial intelligence can enhance the hospitality experience. Robot concierges have been trialled by operators to deliver advice and offer answers to some questions. Clearly, this isn't quite the service you'd expect in a five-star establishment, but it has the potential to offer a valuable 24-hour facility. Of course, the benefit of any artificial intelligence is that it should do as it's programmed to do, which also means multiple languages. So, for those guests from far afield, this type of assistance can prove extremely valuable. That said, early prototypes are more of a novelty at present, but they do have the capacity to learn from speech, so the more they interact the more useful they should become. At the moment the most meaningful application of AI in hospitality is in direct messaging and online chat. A good example is Edwardian Hotels' online guest engagement service, Edward. Once guests have checked in online and chosen a room from a virtual floor plan, the virtual host will introduce himself. Edward has over 900 ways in which he can interact with guests, which means he can deal with almost all common requests. AI isn't set to take over traditional service any time soon, but it will certainly have an increasing role to play in guest engagement. Changing perceptions It's a perennial issue, but the perception of the industry remains a problem. It's one that is in sharper focus now that Brexit is months away and the pipeline of workers from Europe may be stemmed. The hospitality industry has long had an image problem, with parents and careers advisors not always being encouraging. But there is some hope that awareness of the opportunities available might be changing, driven by individuals in the industry and operators keen to emphasise they offer a great place to work. Chefs have long had the limelight through ever-increasing TV exposure - though that attention has not necessarily led to a dramatic rises in recruits - but front of house roles in particular have been harder to fill with local talent. That may now be changing with role models such as Fred Sirieix increasing the profile of service, while initiatives such as the Gold Service Scholarship and National Waiters' Day continue to challenge misconceptions. h the newly created UKHospitality (from the merger of the British Hospitality Association and ALMR) focused on providing a clear unified voice as Brexit approaches, this may yet be the year that hospitality really does tackle its image problem.
From our sponsor !access](https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/fwShRmQi2DChX0p8GiPA)The hospitality industry continues to feel an ever-increasing pressure to operate as lean as possible, and with all the challenges already facing operators, such as business rate hikes, increased food costs, higher wage bills and skills shortages, we believe effective workforce management has never been more important. While making savings is front of mind for many operators, under- or over-staffing is a frequent problem which has a powerful impact on profitability. Labour optimisation software is one way of working more efficiently and allows operators to ensure they have the right people in the right place at the right time. It intuitively allows operators to staff up during busy periods and to cut back when it is quiet. Having this ability to streamline staff costs and create a fine-tuned rota based on demand is critical during the current climate. [Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).
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