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Navigating the recruitment crisis (Part 2) – talent attraction

Part 1 of this two-part blog explored different ways to reduce turnover and retain current team members such as appreciation and recognition, nurturing staff to succeed through mentoring, and supporting team members to grow through coaching and development. High team member turnover and the current ‘war for talent’ is putting a lot of pressure on hotels. Innovating some of the typical strategies you might use to recruit talent could be really helpful in making your venue or property stand out. This blog details some activities that you can consider when rethinking recruitment.

While change can be nerve wracking, particularly during times of high volatility in the economy, it is also crucial for success and growth.


  1. Aim to ensure the application and onboarding experience is efficient and enjoyable

Our last blog touched on the importance of the guest experience and how much effort is invested in ensuring that right from the point a guest interacts with a booking system through to check-out, everything is seamless. Of similar importance, given the difficulty in recruiting and retaining top talent, is the applicant experience. Some early thoughts to consider:

  • The application process is the first insight a potential new recruit gets on what it might be like to work with you. Ensure applications are responded to in a timely and genuine manner. Buddy applicants who might be invited for a trial shift with a team lead for example, someone who is passionate and invested in the business, don’t just leave them to their own devices. People excel and come out of their shell when they feel they are supported and encouraged to do well.
  • Assume each potential new recruit is applying with the intention of progressing their career with you. Asking developmental questions early in the interview/on boarding process can demonstrate a genuine interest in a person’s aspirations. This could also generate an early interest in and commitment to staying long-term.
  • If people are going to invest in us, we need to invest in them. Training from the get-go is core to ensuring new talent is instilled with confidence, feels supported, and delivers on the objectives of the organisation. Regular on-the-job training and upskilling (e.g. cross-training) is also a core way to reduce turnover, enhance team capabilities, and operational efficiency.


  1. Rethinking where you go to recruit

A cost effective approach to recruitment is looking to current team members as brand ambassadors to recommend your hotel and refer people they know. Team member referrals have been found to be an extremely effective, cost efficient and timely way to hire. Harri reported that 45% of referred hires stay for 2+ years and propose that team member referrals should be an integral part of talent acquisition strategies. Referral schemes are a great way to motivate team members to recommend your hotel and bring new recruits to you. An example of a referral scheme might be ‘Refer a friend’ with a reward for the team member if their referral is hired (e.g. £50). Further benefits could include an increased reward (£100) if their referral stays for 1 year+. Referral incentives can also result in your existing team members perform better at work. It might be worth talking to team members to understand what rewards they would most value and being flexible with what you offer. The more relevant and motivating the reward to a team member, the more likely they are to deliver on this for you.

Apprenticeships/internships can help you to develop the skills in your team members relevant to your organisation through training and development, and can improve team productivity. This might be a great way to attract people of school leaving age and transforming the motivation of new people coming into your organisation. So often, and at times entirely appropriate and beneficial for the sector at peak times of the year, a common perception of people entering hospitality is “Oh I’ll just do this until I figure something else out”. Apprenticeships could be key to transforming this view into genuine interest and investment in career development and progression. Visiting local schools, for example having a hotel representative visit and talk to the students about opportunities at the hotel, could be a great way to begin generating interest in the young people of the local community. Connecting with Universities could also be a great way to hire for management. Universities with business and management schools are often in search of new partners to work with on internships, this could be a great way of broadening the available talent pool and developing a talent pipeline of graduates for your business.

  1. Job adverts, social media and communicating your brand values

A well-crafted job description can really help you to stand out as a company that values talent. Some thoughts on job adverts and generating interest in your hotel:

  • Ensure job adverts are clear, enticing, and concise. Job descriptions should be an extension of your company culture and be detailed and clear on the requirements for the role. A job advert should be informative with regards to role responsibilities, expected pay rate, company profile and values, and any benefits that you might offer. Clear and transparent job adverts should give enough relevant information for a candidate to consider applying, this will ensure that a candidate is well informed on their suitability and the offer. It’s important to note it can be good to communicate flexibility here depending on the role you are looking to fill, people might not meet every single requirement of the job, but if they are reliable, emotionally intelligent, and have the right attitude – you can teach them the specifics.
  • Social media can be a great way to find new talent. Connecting with potential candidates on social media (e.g. LinkedIn where people will have details if their prior experience) will at a very early stage communicate your interest in their skill profile and experience. This is also a great way to reduce recruitment costs and connect with a wider talent pool quickly.
  • Communicate that you are an employer who accommodates team member needs and ambitions. Team members value being appreciated, recognised and working in a culture that offers some amount of flexibility. Offering flexible working patterns and being open to the working pattern needs of team members can be a great way to promote your organisation as an inclusive and considerate employer – a key aspect that new talent is seeking in prospective employers.
  • Asking your current teams to promote job adverts on their social media or creating team member testimonials are also additional ways that you can ensure your adverts are communicating an authentic and transparent view of your company culture. Ensure you have team member consent and that they don’t feel pressurised to do so as this might reduce motivation if so. Another effective word of mouth strategy might be connecting with customers, if they have enjoyed their experience with you are likely to recommend you as an employer to people they know.
  • Run recruitment open days and invite your team members to run it. Inviting a group of people who have applied for a position to meet the current team, ask questions to those that are already working there, and show off the property can be a great way to create a lasting impression for interested talent. This is a great way to showcase the company culture where potential recruits can experience it first-hand.


  1. Take time to recruit the right people and innovating benefits

When considering who you might be looking for, taking the time to really understand a candidate’s emotional intelligence can really pay dividends in the long term.

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? Danny Meyer – New York Restauranteur/CEO of Union Square Hospitality, believes we should look for 49% technical skills and 51% emotional skills.

Examples of emotional skills include:

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

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 looking inward at our own behaviours 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.

Some final thoughts on how you can differentiate yourself as an employer of choice for new recruits:

  • Invest in learning and development – showcase that you have a proactive culture of one-to-one coaching where team members have an opportunity to learn and improve and are continuously supported to grow with your business.
  • Consider differentiating compensation models – The current cost of living squeeze means that people are now thinking about things everyone may have taken for granted previously, such as what it will cost them to get to work, if team members are required to drive, they will need to consider fuel and parking costs. Some really interesting and innovative ideas are being trialled in some places, such as on site staff accommodation where hotels are located in remote areas. Other compensation models could include: profit sharing schemes, company discounts, or using products and services as perks can be great incentives to attract and retain team members who will exceed expectations and deliver on the high quality service.
  • Condensing contract hours into 4 days. This might be a great way to increase work/life balance benefits – and eliminate one day where team members need to pay to travel to work.
  • Be open to part time – even in management. Offering job sharing style roles at all levels could be a great way to recruit quickly, increase the diversity of talent in your hotel and open up a whole new pool of potential candidates while increasing the inclusivity of your organisation. For example, being inclusive of those who have caring responsibilities for children or family members.
  • Commit to contracts, and where more hours are needed, pay over-time or compensate team members in the best way you can – team members are not responsible for the recruitment crisis and when they help out and provide more of their time and energy when needed, this needs to be recognised and rewarded – not an undisclosed expectation. Expecting people to work 60+ hours a week with no recompense is demotivating and risks team members leaving.


The most important aspect to remember is – retain the team members you have and ensure processes are in place to retain new talent. See part 1 of this two-part blog for some retention ideas!