How Hotel Brands Can Reimagine the Employee Experience to Solve the Talent Gap
By Bill Caswell Principal, Hospitality Practice Leader, North Highland | September 2019
A recent Econsultancy survey querying companies on the most exciting opportunity for 2019 found that customer experience (CX) topped the list, edging out content marketing and mobile marketing. This CX trend has been accelerating over the last several years – especially in the hotel industry. As hotels pursued customer experience strategies, however, they often neglected to invest in their most important competitive advantage: the employees tasked with delivering the customer experience.
In the hotel industry, you can't outcompete rivals on CX without an employee experience (EX) program that produces satisfied, well-trained employees. CX systems often assume that once data and insights are shared with front line employees, they will be ready to take the appropriate action. That assumption isn't always accurate.
Employee experience, for the purposes of this article, is defined as the sum of all interactions between an employee and his or her employer.
The lagging investment in hotel EX programs is one reason the industry hasn't been able to overcome generational dynamics that are making it harder than ever to attract younger workers. Nearly every big hospitality company, from restaurants to theme parks and hotel brands, is forecasting a significant talent gap between now and 2021, and one of the biggest obstacles to filling open positions is the inability to attract younger workers, i.e., millennials and Gen Z.
An irony of the millennial mindset is that this group arguably desires travel and experiences more than any previous generation -- while at the same time rejecting the hospitality industry as a viable career choice. They love the product, but they don't want a career delivering it. If you compare the average hospitality worker's lifestyle to the expectations of millennials, however, this dichotomy is not surprising. Two top priorities for younger workers are work/life balance and career progression.
Most positions in hotels are 24/7-type jobs, so performance on the former measure is naturally poor. And, the busiest times for hotels often revolve around holidays and weekends.