Building Employee Career Paths to Recruit and Retain Quality Talent

By Jason Ferrara Vice President, Corporate Marketing, CareerBuilder | March 06, 2010

One of the greatest benefits of a career in hospitality is the ability to connect with others - whether it's working directly with guests or developing programs and services that impact guests' experiences. Employment opportunities in hospitality are aligned with the qualities that many workers say make a job ideal. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder.com survey of more than 6,300 workers finds that 81 percent of workers feel it is important to impact others in their jobs - one-in-five (20 percent) say it is absolutely essential.

This demonstrates that there are a lot of workers who would be attracted to a career in hospitality. However, many job seekers are unaware of the career growth opportunities that exist in hospitality companies. There is often a misperception about a lack of opportunity for upward mobility in the industry, which leads some job seekers to view jobs as a stepping stone to something else.

Developing, implementing and promoting Career Path programs can help establish your company as a preferred employer and that has many advantages. Here are just a few of the ways Career Path programs can positively impact your organization:

  • Compete with other industries for top talent - in an increasingly competitive hiring environment, focusing on Career Pathing can help attract candidates who may not have considered a position in hospitality.
  • Reduce turnover and elevate customer experience - educating employees about opportunities for growth and helping them achieve their personal and professional goals will make employees more loyal and inspire them to deliver a better customer experience.
  • Take focus off salary alone - when employees feel like they are part of something, that they are learning and building a career, salary isn't the only motivating factor.
  • Create brand ambassadors - in hospitality, more so than in other industries, employees are your brand. Creating a Career Path program results in a more engaged and invested workforce who treat your business as if it's their own and become powerful brand ambassadors for your organization.
  • Reputation - we live in the Internet age, where reviews of hotel experiences are readily available on blogs, hotel rating websites and more. Creating a positive environment for employees is ultimately beneficial for your external image as well.
  • Bottom line impact - a more engaged and loyal workforce translates into a better experience for your guests and that directly impacts your bottom line. In fact, a recent Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania study, companies on Fortune magazine's annual list of the "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" between 1998 and 2005 returned 14 percent of employees per year, as compared to 6 percent a year for the overall market. In the high touch hospitality industry, employees are the key to your success. Therefore, when you invest in your employees, you invest in your future. Empowering your employees to grow and learn within the organization will help distinguish your organization as a desirable workplace. And for guests, that translates to a desirable place to stay.

What is Career Pathing?

Before we dive into building a Career Path program, it's important to first explore what Career Pathing really means. It's more than putting together an organizational chart for your employees and tacking it up in the break room; it's understanding what motivates your current employees and those you would like to attract.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.