Recruiting Graduate Talent: Added Skills Blessing or Retention Blight?

By Bernadette Scott Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Business Management, Glasgow School for Business & Society/Glasgow Caledonian University | March 16, 2014

Recruitment and Retention of Talent in the Hospitality Industry

A fifth of workers were reported to be looking for a new position in the Winter 2013 quarter, with 36% of them being employees who have only been in the job for a few years (CIPD Outlook Survey, 2013 a). Although turnover slowed in response to the economic turn in 2008, employers have still found that competition to recruit the right calibre of talent has remained high. As employment confidence continues to rise with quarterly improvement on figures from Summer 2013. The net employment balance shows that more employers have plans to recruit than those planning to decrease their workforce (Labor Market Outlook, Autumn 2013).

The recruitment process itself is surrounded in criticality. There is much to be done right and its linkage to organizational performance is not one that managers of people can easily ignore. Hotel Schools across the country have been teaching for decades that when it comes to hiring, managers can only reap what they sow. Yet, the apparent no-brainer debate over the urgent need to address aspects, such as the dominant attraction of to a young workforce, zero hour, part-time and seasonal contracts, coupled with anti-social hours generally rewarded by low pay, poor progression prospects and lack of employee investment and development still rages, with little progress.

Retention is probably the most important aspect of resourcing and yet poor retention rates continue to adversely affect organizational performance and the attraction and recruitment of new talent. Hewitt (2009) indicated that in 2010 almost 40% of workers would be over 45 years old with effective succession planning becoming urgent. Research also highlights concern with the UK's leadership and management talent pool and pipeline, indicating that 93% of respondents from UK employers are worried about succession planning, with a deficit of effective leadership skills and prevailing management capability concerns preventing them achieving organizational goals (ILT, 2013)
The key question for Hospitality Industry managers is what more can be done at the four stages of recruitment, namely, definition of role, talent attraction, effective application and selection and talent appointment. This should ensure that they get their share of the right organisational talent. Increasing chances of success in this quest involves careful audit of each of these stages, searching for blockages and potential bias within the nuances of own organizational setting to avoid the expensive pitfalls of getting it wrong. Losses are not just financial, but also adversely affect talent retention rates, causing morale dips for existing staff, impacts on service delivery and challenges for succession planning and organizational competitiveness as well as negative impact on the employer brand (Taylor, 2010). Putting it bluntly:

Getting it Right at Recruitment = Better Chance of Talent Retention

Obviously recruitment and retention activities are only two parts of an integrated talent management system which provides joined up thinking across the HRM spectrum, which according to Baron and Armstrong (2007), will ‘ensure that the organization attracts, retains, motivates and develops the talented people it needs now and in the future’. The benefits of a systematic approach to talent management are highlighted in Ashton & Morton’s (2005) work, showing how talent strategies aligned to organization goals bring together all of the other existing processes to create a ‘talent mind-set’ to ensure success.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.