Recruiting Graduate Talent: Added Skills Blessing or Retention Blight?

By Bernadette Scott Senior Lecturer, Business Management, Glasgow School for Business & Society | 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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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.