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)
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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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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.