March FOCUS

Human Resources: Confronting a Labor Shortage

Human Resources: Confronting a Labor Shortage

With the unemployment rate at its lowest level in decades (3.7%), what has always been a perennial problem for human resource professionals - labor shortage - is now reaching acute levels of concern. It is getting harder to find and recruit qualified applicants. Even finding candidates with the skills to succeed in entry-level positions has become an issue. In addition, employee turnover rates remain extremely high in the hotel industry. As a result of these problems, hotel HR managers are having to rethink their recruitment strategies in order to hire the right talent for the right job. First, hotels have been forced to raise their wages and offer other appealing perks, as a way to attract qualified candidates. Secondly, HR managers are reassessing their interviewing techniques, focusing less on the answers they receive to questions and more on observable behavior. Part of this process includes role-playing during the interview, so that the recruiter can gauge how a candidate works through specific problems and interacts with other team members. Additionally, some HR managers are also creating internal talent pools as a way to address labor shortages. Instead of utilizing department resources to find new hires with specific skills for needed positions, hotels are cultivating talent pools internally and preparing their employees to assume leadership roles whenever the time comes. They are also placing greater emphasis on a company culture that is more performance-based, as a way to curb employee turnover, increase employee satisfaction, and assure higher levels of customer service. Finally, recognizing the importance of employee retention as a way to lessen the impact of a tight labor market, some HR managers are instituting generous reward programs in order to retain their top performers. The March Hotel Business Review will explore what some HR professionals are doing to address these and other issues in their departments.



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This month's feature articles...

Tom Conran

Employee turnover continues to plague the hospitality industry. In many cases, star employees acquire skills in hotels before transferring to other industries, costing operators valuable time spent training workers. It remains a struggle despite the hotel industry routinely paying above the average national minimum wage, and allowing for near limitless potential for growth. In the majority of cases, workers choose to leave their positions because they feel undervalued, or they encounter resistance from management. There are many ways to reward standout team members and elevate workers who struggle, beyond monetary incentives. Are you doing enough to recognize your property's team members? READ MORE

Mark Van Amerongen

One of the biggest stories in hospitality in recent years is the ongoing-and worsening-labor shortage. Hotel owners and operators have been forced to navigate an increasingly costly and competitive labor landscape, and HR managers in particular have been forced to look for creative new solutions to address personnel challenges. And at a time when the labor market is growing tighter, owner expectations are rising. Consequently, hotel management professionals responsible for hiring are also raising the bar. The costs and consequences of a bad hire have become so significant, that the HR team quite literally can't afford to get it wrong. READ MORE

David Lee

Does your Employer Brand communicate why talented employees would want to work for you in a way that is interesting, persuasive, believable, and memorable? Does it really differentiate you from your competitors in the talent war? If you are NOT using stories in your employer branding, the answer to both questions is and emphatic "No." Claims like "we're a great place to work," "you get to make a difference when you work here," and "come join the A Team" are meaningless and unconvincing. Anybody can claim that, including your competitors. What can differentiate you from them? Stories. Stories make your Employer Brand come to life and demonstrate the truth of your claims. Learn how to use stories to make your Employer Brand more interesting, believable, and memorable, and to separate yourself from the Employer Sea of Sameness. READ MORE

Bruce Smart

It's no secret that employees are the heart of any hotel or casino to deliver quality operations and a high-level of customer service. With the low rate of unemployment across the United States, now it is more important than ever for companies to take a strategic approach to engage and retain quality employees. This article provides information about four approaches for hospitality leaders to consider for their teams – including using behavioral sciences, developing ways to monitor the employee experience, predicting turnover through data science, and approaching your employee marketing the same way your approach customer marketing. READ MORE

Sheetal Singh

With unemployment rate at its lowest in the last few decades, it is critical for employers to create environments that are engaging and improve talent retention within an organization. Employees either leave organizations for opportunities to grow or separate from environments that do not contribute to their development and overall well-being. In this article I share how organizations can leverage leadership to not only help develop and retain existing talent but also attract high potential professionals that are looking for an opportunity to learn and grow. READ MORE

Ken Greger

We all know what happens when we wait too long to address an existing or impending crisis, and history offers endless examples. It took many years for Noah to build his ark, but when the flooding began those who had spent all that time ridiculing him perished for lack of preparation. Several died after failing to evacuate from Mt. St. Helens, despite being warned well in advance that an eruption was imminent. The stories go on and on, yet – classically – many of us wait until the last minute or, worse, until the problem is upon us. And then we panic. It's been a mathematical reality for some time that a labor shortage was inevitable. This article warns that the shortage is now upon us, but also offers suggestions for doing something to avoid panic. READ MORE

Leigh Branham

Question: What is your most effective recruiting method? Job posting? Campus recruiting? Your website? Employee referrals? Social media? It depends on the talent you're targeting, of course. But you may be relying too much on a limited handful of talent sourcing and recruiting strategies. Have you ever wondered whether you are considering all the methods available to you? In this article, the author presents a comprehensive list of ten methods that are guaranteed to expand your thinking. Developing relationships with local resume writers? Hosting an open house? Arranging chats with web-surfing job seekers? These and any of 60 other "guerilla tactics" may be the ticket to finding and keeping talent you need to stay successful. READ MORE

Renie Cavallari

When faced with labor shortages and staffing challenges, take a good look at your leadership-management team and onboarding and development plans, as well as your culture. Employees stay in positions when they feel valued, feel competent, are happy in their environment, and have clearly defined roles and expectations. With how negatively turnover impacts your bottom line, it is increasingly important to make sure you are training and developing the right people. When leaders commit to their people and their culture, they are more likely to retain the type of employees that will best perform in their organization. READ MORE

Lisa Cain

The hospitality industry is witnessing the increasing need for specialization of current and future employees in order to attract and retain a qualified workforce. Accordingly, workforce development and how higher education may aid in this process is of considerable interest. Future trends may see more partnerships between industry, organizations, and higher education to use more credentialing outside of the undergraduate and graduate education models that currently exist. The importance of certifications and the development of specialized programs in higher education to respond more rapidly to market needs of specialization in hospitality are discussed. READ MORE

Suzanne McIntosh

Finding talent for your hospitality business is harder than ever. Unemployment is low and fewer people are in an active job search. Competition is fierce for top performing candidates. How do you attract great people to your open positions, then once you have their attention, how do you keep them engaged during the interview process and close the deal? We can no longer expect highly qualified candidates to respond to our job postings. We must actively recruit, move quickly and streamline the interview process. Candidates have many options…if you take too long…you will lose them. READ MORE

Eugenio Pirri

For years HR professionals have battled the war for talent. A phrase coined in the 1980s by business consultant McKinsey to highlight the challenges in attracting, recruiting and retaining high-caliber people in a stagnant employment market. With unemployment rates at their lowest levels in a decade, standing at just 3.7%, many would argue the war has yet to be won. With ongoing uncertainty in the economy, Eugenio Pirri, Chief People and Culture Officer believes more needs to be done to address this challenge. In this article, he shares his views on the battle for talent and how they are tackling the shortage within luxury hotel management organization, Dorchester Collection. READ MORE

Brenda McGregor

Creating a strong culture within the hotel business is not only important, but essential. Depending on core values and internal priorities, the answer to what culture looks like might vary slightly from one company to the next. There's one thing that's most important to creating and maintaining a strong culture in a workplace-collaboration. Efficient communication, understanding employees, open mindedness and willingness to make changes are just the beginning building blocks of this process. A strong culture doesn't just happen, it takes consistent and continuous work that will pay off with employees, guests and professional partners alike. READ MORE

Rachel Levitt

The hotel industry is currently facing a labor shortage of unprecedented proportions. This has led employers to look for innovative ways to find and keep their top talent. Recruiting from outside the sector holds tremendous promise for hospitality, because it opens the door for fresh thinking and ideas, best practices from other industries, and a new way of looking at old problems. Technology, in particular, offers a multitude of possibilities for hotels to revamp everything from their financial systems to in-house entertainment, marketing methodologies, and even to introduce environmentally sustainable operations. Here are some innovative ways hotels can implement cross-industry recruitment to build the strength of their organizations. READ MORE

Cara Silletto

Tired of watching thousands of dollars walk out the revolving door of employee turnover? Have you begun to proactively invest those same dollars on the front end of your employee relationships to help keep people longer? Or is the door spinning faster each year? Too often, it's assumed that the solution to a workforce shortage is increased recruiting. But if the real problem is employee turnover, then a bigger-picture approach is needed. Instead of just putting a Band-Aid on today's staffing shortage, redirect your dollars to solving the source of the problem. Don't make the mistake of investing more in the staff you're missing than in keeping the staff you already have. READ MORE

Robert M. O'Halloran

A long-time pillar of hospitality business education at the university level is that we are preparing traditional and non-traditional students for careers in the hospitality industry. Our students have held jobs to gain experience and positioned themselves for leadership positions with multiple levels of responsibility and authority. A career path model can assist an organization in the planning and retention process at all employee levels. Organizations viewing themselves as career pathway champions can benefit their employees and themselves by creating a great place to work that embraces employee goal and career aspirations, while meeting the employer's business goals creates a positive work environment. For those searching out what direction they should take, career paths need to be obvious, evident and manageable and approachable. READ MORE

Sherri Merbach

One recent, you-can't-miss-it trend in the marketplace is online recruiting companies are investing large sums of money into advertising, likely reflecting the even-larger revenues they are earning in return. And the underlying reason why so many companies are recruiting more is because their employee retention strategies don't work…or they don't have any strategy at all. Confronting this difficulty of finding qualified employees in a labor market of low employment, companies are finding themselves understaffed and incurring overtime to serve their guests. Few hospitality companies realize that the shortest path to people management success is by hiring employees who will stay longer. This requires fresh thinking. READ MORE

Coming up in November 2020...

Hotel Design: Home Away From Home

With the rise of the sharing economy and the peer-to-peer marketplace for lodging options, hoteliers are re-thinking the look, feel and appeal of their locations. There is an emphasis on re-creating a feeling of homeyness - a comfortable, cozy and inviting space that feels like home. 'This is accomplished through the careful selection of furniture design, paint colors, lighting design, artwork, bathroom fixtures and textile accessories. In addition, some hotels are providing their guests with upscale amenities, such as a book and movie library, home-style kitchenettes, a coffee machine with locally-sourced beans and tea, or even a batch of fresh-baked cookies. Similarly, there is a growing design trend based on the concept of place-making. Travelers are searching for experiences that are unique and authentic to the locale in which they find themselves, and so hotel designers are integrating a sense of place into their work. This is partially achieved by incorporating traditional artisanal crafts and other local artwork into hotel rooms and communal spaces. Another design trend includes the creation of full-service, co-working environments within the hotel. Guests don't like to stay alone in their room when they need to work, so now they can go downstairs to the lobby-or up to the roof-to work among others. These areas encourage guests - and non-guests alike - to stay as long as they like and to partake of hotel amenities. Finally, recognizing the importance of the Wellness Movement, some designers are exploring how room design can increase the likelihood of deep and restorative sleep. Creating dark and quiet spaces, blocking excessive light, providing guests with a selection of different kinds of pillows, and the ability to control room temperature, are a few of the best practices in this area. These are some of the architecture and design topics that will be covered in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.