The Smart Training Company
Call Us Now


T: 0800 6129324

The current recruitment crisis – what’s the answer?

With the ongoing staffing crisis in hospitality showing no signs of going away anytime soon, our team have put their heads together and come up with a few suggestions that hotel businesses might like to consider. Holding on to team members you do have has to be a priority, and we have identified some areas which may well help achieve retention goals. Addressing any of these is not going to change shortages overnight but looking at longer term goals, we believe that any one or all these solutions could be invaluable in ensuring the stability of staffing in hospitality.

  1. Recognition costs nothing

How often have you attended team briefings that focus on making the guest experience the best it can possibly be? I am sure the answer is weekly, if not daily.

As hospitality professionals we dedicate a huge amount of our time to making the guest experience perfect, to surprise and delight and to make it appear effortless.

How many managers could honestly claim that they put 10% of that effort into doing the same for their teams? From personal experience, in most hotels I worked at, praise and recognition were not given freely. You could work a 70+ hour week, pull off miracles of service recovery and yet be left feeling like more was expected.

It is well documented that the principles of recognition are linked to higher levels of motivation, engagement and productivity, lower turnover, and the ability to attract and retain top talent.

Recognising performance and effort reinforces desired behaviours creating a virtuous circle where a happy team = happy guests. It’s a win-win!

So what steps can you take to create a culture of appreciation and recognition for your team?

  1. Create a recognition scheme that allows team members to nominate each other, not just manager to employee. Allow the team to give a sidekick salute for a job well done. Managers are not around to witness every magic moment.
  2. Be consistent and make time for appreciation. A concerted and consistent approach with deliberate intention will build a positive habit, and a culture that celebrates hard work and achievements, not one that just expects it.
  3. Make recognition and team success part of your HOD meeting agenda. Put your team at the top of your priorities.
  4. Ensure appraisals happen. Appraisals are fantastic way to formally recognise the effort and success of individual team members. Too often these are overlooked, or not conducted because managers are too busy.
  5. Make it sincere and personal. Nothing is more effective than sincere, accurate praise, rather than a generic response.

Putting these steps in place may seem like a lot of effort but the desired outcomes can be achieved through sustained practice. The results of which could save you time, and result in a more motivated, engaged, productive and stable team and make you a more attractive employment option to potential recruits.

For more on the importance of team wellbeing, download our free wellbeing journey guide here

  1. The power of nurturing and mentoring

Taking time to nurture and mentor new team members will probably have a profound positive effect. Team member Jo reflects on her formative years in Hospitality and the powerful impact that feeling part of something, and a sense of belonging had on her young self.

“My first full time role in the industry was with Thistle hotels. I joined as a Junior Receptionist and my first 4 weeks was job shadowing the Head Receptionist and Reception Manager. I was then sent to Luton for a 4 day training course on Reception Skills, Reservations and Enquiry Handling. I can still remember it today, the sense of belonging. Of being part of a great team, not just at my hotel, but also as part of the Thistle team. Needless to say I stayed with them for over 6 years progressing through Reservations, Conference & Banqueting and then into Regional Sales.

My next experience was with Jarvis hotels when John Jarvis first created his own brand. I actually wrote to the HR Director, after an article I read in the Caterer about how they recruited for attitude over experience and how they could train any individual that had the right attitude and enjoyed interacting with people. Remember this would have been back in the nineties, so this was so forward thinking. I received a personal response from the HR Director and was then put in touch with one of their hotels looking to recruit a Conference & Events Sales Manager. Needless to say, I got the job and that was the start of a 7-year career with Jarvis.

The reason I stayed so long was again down to a sense of belonging … belonging to a team of like-minded, motivated people and inspirational leaders I was offered the platform and structure to perform. As a company, they questioned everything and turned it on its head, for example instead of Rooms Division Managers and F&B Managers we had Customer Sales and Spend Managers and Quality and Service Managers. This change of role really focused the mind and each HOD became a Business Centre Manager responsible for managing their own business. The key to this was the training, development and support that went alongside it.

There was also the recognition with a fast-track programme recognising up and coming future Managers, called the Jarvis Youth Squad. This involved quarters get-togethers with everyone on the Youth Squad and all the exec team, including John Jarvis. We were invited to give feedback and come up with ideas to present to the team and given ownership to put them into practice. Then there were the Quality Awards! Open to all hotels, peers recognising one another and what felt like no expense spared Gala dinner. We really felt nurtured and part of something really special.

Those were the days! If only we could look at putting some of these things back into practice rather than focus on cost all the time”.

  1. The importance of coaching

The key part of coaching is to learn and develop. Allowing your team member to learn something new is important to their overall development and they will feel valued in the investment you are making in them. Demonstrating you care will encourage a better working relationship and ultimately better performance. Findings taken from recent Learning Magazine research shows 80% of employees value recognition above any rewards or gifts.

If you are recruiting and interviewing, let the candidates know that you have a proactive culture of one-to-one coaching where they have an opportunity to learn and improve and are ultimately supported through their time working with your organisation.  Explain that the process involves tailoring their individual needs and goals which are mutually agreed with them.

To retain team members, engage, motivate and support them throughout their learning journey with you. Start as you mean to go on from new starters to existing team members. Establishing trust and maintaining it is the most important part of the entire coaching process. This must be a genuine desire in you and requires an investment in time and emotion.

Use a coaching model (such as G.R.O.W.) to instil confidence in your team member from the off because they see a methodical approach rather than being coached haphazardly which can lead to a disorganised and frustrating coaching session. Coaching should be natural and using a coaching model will develop a consistent, natural and rewarding process for your team member.

People are more engaged if they can see there is potential for them to grow and develop their career in your organisation and that they are encouraged and supported as an individual through ongoing, regular and tailor-made coaching support. The likelihood is your team retention is higher having a positive impact on the difficulties currently surrounding recruitment. You are succession planning for motivated, knowledgeable team leaders and coaches for the future so that the culture is ongoing and future proofed and you will be gaining a reputation as a go to employer in the industry, attracting and retaining the best candidates.

  1. Take time to recruit the right people

This might sound an obvious statement, but taking the time to really understand a candidate’s emotional intelligence can really pay dividends in the long term.  Here, team member Julia presents an alternative perspective on the role personality can play in retaining staff and ultimately driving the success of a hospitality business.

What makes your business a favourite with your guests? Is it the new refurbishment that has transformed a tired environment or compliance scores of over 90%? Whilst these achievements are important, it will inevitably come down to the team members you spend each day with.

We are all aiming for that recognition with compliments and reviews on social media that puts us as the place to be, but without the team who deliver outstanding hospitality we will probably fall short.

What makes a team member deliver outstanding hospitality?

We love the view of Danny Meyer – New York Restauranteur/CEO of Union Square Hospitality. He believes we should look for 49% technical skills and 51% emotional skills.

What do we mean by emotional skills?

These are:

  • Kindness
  • Optimism
  • Work ethic
  • Curious intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Self-awareness
  • Integrity

At this unprecedented time where recruitment and retention of team members can be challenging, it is worth looking at how your team within the business recruits and retains your team members so that we allow our teams to excel within their roles of providing outstanding hospitality.

It’s an interesting thought process to consider how often we look at ourselves and assess our own emotional skills. As a team manager, do we spend time to look at our behaviour and would we be viewed by our team members as their ‘favourite manager’?

In a team that provides outstanding hospitality, it has to come from the top, the manager who is interested in their team members and provides the resources, removes obstacles and takes delight in allowing team members to excel.

Happy team-members leads to higher retention, resulting in improved service delivery.