The Politically Incorrect Guide to Attracting and Keeping Better Employees
By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | June 05, 2011
Here are some fresh ideas and politically incorrect suggestions on the biggest expense (and loss) for hoteliers: personnel and their penchant for quitting every 18 months or so. Perceptions and expectations have changed over the last couple of decades: loyalty and longevity used to be a given virtue and now, fabulously enough, have become signs of a "loser." Resumes of inveterate job hoppers, once frowned upon, now signal a person with "ambition and drive," someone to have on the team.
Thus looking after #1 has become a virtue and the company is somehow expected to flourish when peopled by a preponderance of team members who aren't. The other side of the coin, of course, is what on earth have corporations been doing to so alienate their best resource? Two thousand years ago, slaves could rightly complain of many things, but job insecurity was not one of them-that's reserved for today's lonely employee.
One candidate for corporate shortcoming is the common misconception that there is little upward mobility in the hospitality industry, making it a stepping-stone to something else. Politics and other factors that add up to bad management play a part, too, from hotel to hotel. Yet the strong correlation between staff retention and guest satisfaction calls for better strategies for giving existing staff what they want and making the work environment desirable. No doubt, some hotels and chains exist with much better retention rates.
When we hire for the private estate sector, it is with the intention of permanent placement by finding the right fit for both parties, and we come close to that goal. To move the trend in that direction in the hospitality sector, something needs to change.
Hoteliers spend 45%-50% of their operating expenses and 35% of their revenue on personnel and are rewarded with a 30-31% turnover annually at a cost of 150% average of that departing person's annual salary: half from loss of productivity and half in placement and training costs-all while guests are less well served for the year the replacement takes to be found and come up to speed: in essence, hotel staffs are operating at about 80% of their service quality potential because of turnover.
In addition, we have a drain of talent as Baby Boomers, a generation with a visceral respect for the value of excellent service, are replaced by Gen X who numerically constitute 3/7's the size; and Gen Y with a culture of entitlement (thanks, it seems, to advertisements that tell them they deserve the best just because; school teachers passing them willy nilly; and laissez faire/indulgent Baby Boomer parents-yes, all politically incorrect to mention, but as with any generalized overview, enough exceptions exist to prove the contention).
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