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.

Library Archives

Jana Love

How does your hotel show up online? Since first impressions are made without a guest physically being on property, all aspects of your online communications (website and social media) need to be calculated and perfect. What is seen online is usually a guest's first impression of your hotel. Websites and social media posts need to come across as smart- post differently, have clever delivery, use engaging content, etc. Hotels need to show personality in their messages and on their websites. Show real guests experiences, have some fun and make us fall in love with the images and your hotel. A successful online presence can be hard work, but the benefits are hard to ignore. READ MORE

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

Laura Guitar

While coronavirus is a serious health threat, the risks go beyond wellbeing – with misinformation spreading more quickly than the disease itself. The current media landscape capitalizes on public fear, and communicators must navigate ways to share important information in a way that will get through to stakeholders while clarifying the facts. In an age of click-bait, there are several key factors to consider when tackling communication around a topic as complex and fear-inducing as a new virus strain. READ MORE

Jennifer Corwin

The role of pre-stay outreach may be among the most underappreciated -- and misunderstood -- factors that affect the quality of guest experiences. While the industry has coalesced around providing basic confirmation of a booked reservation, few hotel brands have put strategic thought into how this "first contact" with a future guest can be leveraged to lay the foundation for a successful stay. In this article we review the current state of pre-arrival communications explore options and opportunities for optimizing this initial touch. 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

Robert Reitknecht

The next decade will be shaped by the continued rise of speech- and text-based assistants for customer service. Research shows that the global chatbot market is set to peak at $1.25 billion by 2025, with only 11% of customers negatively viewing the technology. In the hospitality industry, we're seeing both leading hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs) leveraging chatbots to deliver more distinct guest experiences while enhancing staff productivity and creating unique new revenue opportunities. So, how can hospitality organizations invest in a way that makes sense for them? Consider this your 2020 guide to chatbots for hospitality. READ MORE

Renie Cavallari

First impressions happen in a nanosecond. They are not singular moments. They tend to build on each other and, once they are formed, they are hard to shift. From the moment a potential guest explores your website, sees a single comment on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Instagram or other social media post, your fingerprints are establishing impressions that tell your story. Today, first impressions are ongoing impressions. They build your brand DNA for better and for worse. Here are a few tips to help make better and lasting first impressions on your guests. 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

Alexander Shashou

If you polled 100 different people asking for their definition of hospitality, chances are that you would get 100 different answers. However, many of them would directly or indirectly mention safety, comfort and feeling well cared for. Hotels can spend time focusing on impressing their guests with exciting offerings from guest-facing mobile technology to new and exciting experiences, but the basic hospitality needs of hotel guests still need to be met. Providing hotel staff with mobile technology, especially housekeeping software, is one way for hotels to efficiently and seamlessly provide exceptional hospitality. 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

Coming up in May 2020...

Eco-Friendly Practices: Creative Innovation

Being eco-friendly is no longer a fad. It is an urgent planetary need and hotels are actively doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint by implementing sustainable, green practices. In addition to the goodwill derived from doing the right thing, hotels are also realizing the benefits to their business. A large percentage of Millennials expect hotels to be eco-friendly and will only patronize those properties that are proudly conforming. Consequently, more hotels are realizing that sustainability is a key element in a successful branding strategy. In addition, going green can lead to a more profitable bottom line, as savings on electricity, water and cleaning materials can add up. Also, there are other advantages that come with being an eco-friendly business, such as government subsidies and tax and loan incentives. As a result, many hotels are finding innovative ways to integrate eco-friendly practices into their business. Geo-thermal energy systems, along with energy-from-waste systems, are being used to heat and cool the property. Passive solar panels, green roofs, natural lighting and natural ventilation strategies also assist in energy conservation. Low-flow water systems and plumbing fixtures make a contribution, as does eco-friendly hardwood flooring, and energy efficient televisions and appliances throughout the property. In addition, some hotels have implemented in-room recycling programs, and only provide all-natural, personal care items. One hotel has actually constructed a bee-keeping operation on their grounds. Not only is this good for the bees but the hotel also produces products from the operation which they sell. This kind of creative innovation also holds enormous appeal to guests. 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.