Rising to the challenge of hospitality recruitment

Business Insights

It would be easy to collate a mass of statistics and ample anecdotal evidence to show that the hospitality sector has reached a crisis point in staff recruitment and retention. This is so serious that businesses are closing, not from lack of customers, but lack of personnel.

As the legal limits on mixing indoors are abolished and long-closed businesses re-open, this problem will get worse. There is a rush to get staff back up to speed and ready for a predicted surge in leisure activities and there is every chance that countless businesses will struggle to get enough staff on their rotas to keep up with demand.

Brexit and the pandemic have not only reduced the number of people applying for front of house positions but also the number of candidates normally undergoing training for specialist jobs. How can hospitality ventures remain competitive, let alone grow their business, with such a widespread shortfall in staff?

This article explores the ways businesses should – and are – rising to the challenge of hospitality recruitment.

Talent mapping and strategic thinking

Some successful ‘re-openers’ saw these problems coming and started to recruit and train new staff using technology in advance of the lifting of lockdown rules. They even had their post-Brexit recruitment plans drawn up in plenty of time.

Many others are now playing catch-up.

It’s recommended that businesses avoid knee-jerk reactions, and instead start a measured and careful talent mapping exercise. It's a good idea to chart the staff who’ve returned from furlough, but also the skills they have and their potential for career development.

If a large number of your staff are university students, your recruitment problems will grow in late September! The time to plan for that is now.

JW Recruitment Managing Director, James Webber, explained:

“Drawing up a profile of your recruitment targets – quantitively and qualitatively – can help to build a structured and sustained recruitment campaign.

“You can then work with a recruitment firm experienced in hospitality to throw your net out and get the best fit. This may sound painstaking when your instinct is to recruit as many staff as possible, as quickly as possible!

“However, what hospitality businesses need even more than ‘people to fill uniforms’ is the staff that stay. Reducing employee churn and lining up supervisors, managers and head chefs can stabilise your future.”

Manage expectations.

The other aspect that needs to be controlled and well thought out is what you say to potential candidates and any recruits that join your team.

The hospitality industry has faced damaging and wide-sweeping issues long before Brexit and COVID-19 ‘rocked its world’, especially negative publicity about zero-hour contracts, pay and work conditions.

“When you're recruiting new staff, you must be conscious of that,”

James explained. He added:
“Even if you are offering the basic wage and zero or low hour contracts, how you ‘package’ this job role is crucial.”

That could include being very transparent about what's involved. Also, in what ways does your company support both individual and commercial training goals? What career advancement opportunities do you offer?

At the very least, share your corporate vision and make candidates excited about their job prospects with you.

Some of the positive activities listed below could make the difference too, in providing enough incentive for staff to join your ranks.

Inclusive and engaged workforces

You have ethical and legal obligations to be an equal and inclusive employer. It also brings substantial commercial benefits if you’re open-minded in your recruitment, as well as offering a degree of flexibility in your work patterns and job roles.

Being prepared to consider as many relevant applications as possible is common sense. If you have overly strict recruitment criteria, you could miss out on someone with the personality and potential to be a first-class employee.

Also, the key to successful staff recruitment and retention in any sector is now ‘emotionally intelligent leadership’. This refers to investing in the emotional and mental health of your workforce, as well as their physical wellbeing.

A happy and cared-for crew will work harder, cope with stress better and remain loyal. Having that sort of culture in place also makes your organisation a more attractive one to work for.

Culture of reward and appreciation

This dovetails with the above point. As detailed in Forbes, around two thirds of people who switch jobs list 'feeling under-appreciated' as the main reason.

Introducing a transparent and consistent programme of incentives and rewards in hospitality businesses can stop constant migration. It’s also another string to your bow when trying to attract the best staff to your team.

Being part of long-term solutions

Making sure your recruitment policies are strong, and that you have things to offer beyond a wage, still puts hospitality bosses in competition with each other to grab the available workforce in the UK.

However, some of the measures mentioned will improve the hospitality industry’s standing in the minds of young people and those who influence their career paths, such as parents.

To truly tackle the recruitment crisis in hospitality, employers, recruitment specialists and the education sector need to work together. More needs to be done to publicise career paths and provide the skills training to make them feasible and attractive.

Operating across the UK James Webber recruitment offer solutions across the hospitality industry, to find out more visit - https://www.jwrecruitment.co.uk/