The hospitality industry is one of the industries hit the hardest by the pandemic and still struggling to recover. Employee turnover for hotels and other hospitality organizations is almost double that of other private sector jobs. Despite re-opening in 2021, restaurants, bars, and hotels across the world are still struggling to find workers to sustain their business operations in 2022, significantly impacting business outcomes. As a result of these labour shortages, many are suffering from limited service, long wait times, less than satisfactory guest experiences, and damaged reputations.
So why can’t these establishments hire or keep anyone? In a nutshell, people are turned off by the industry. A Joblist survey of 13,000 job seekers conducted in the summer of 2021 found that 1 in 3 former hospitality workers said they would not return to the hospitality industry at all if given the option. Low pay, physically demanding workloads, minimal benefits, a lack of flexible schedules, and little to no employee recognition or appreciation on the job are some of the top reasons why people vow never to go back or get into the industry in the first place.
In a desperate attempt to hire talent, many restaurants, bars, and hotels are raising their hourly pay. Unfortunately, it looks like this isn’t going to be enough. In the same Joblist survey, 50% of former hospitality workers who are moving on to different industries reported that no pay increases would make them return to their old job.
For the hospitality industry to have a chance at balancing out this labour shortage and getting people through the door, it needs to do more than offer more money. HR managers need to assess how they can make their entire employee experience more appealing. Attracting talent is important, but employee retention is just as important since existing workers are more valuable than ever. One report by the Society of Human Resource Management found that replacing hourly workers in the hospitality industry can cost an average of $1,500.
Since raising pay only goes so far, the next step is to look into other employee engagement initiatives that can help maximize happiness on the job. Prioritizing employee engagement is particularly important if you’re running a hotel business as studies show that there is a very strong correlation between hotel employee engagement and guest satisfaction.
So what else can you be doing if you’re in charge of attracting and retaining hospitality workers?
One of the reasons why the industry struggles so much with hanging on to talent long-term is that the roles within it (host, server, bus boy, bartender, concierge, etc) are typically seen as “jobs” or transition jobs rather than as careers.
Research by Think Education Career Enhancer Survey on hotel staff found that almost 60% of survey respondents felt like they should be in a more senior position at work, or are feeling undervalued.
To get more people interested in working in hotels, bars, or restaurants, you should make sure your organization is communicating potential career paths to its new recruits, investing in education opportunities and training programs to help them develop their desired skill sets, and providing the mentorship opportunities they need to support them in their career growth goals.
One of the things hospitality workers struggle with is the fact that they seldom receive positive feedback. They might get it from the occasional polite guests, but typically don’t get it enough from their supervisors or their peers.
Recognition-rich cultures are proving to experience as much as 31% lower turnover rates than cultures that don’t prioritize employee recognition. Employee recognition programs have been proven to increase employee engagement by as much as 60%. If employee engagement is suffering in your bar, restaurant, or hotel, a good place to start is to look at how, and how often, recognition is shown in your workplace and what you can do to increase its frequency and improve your company culture overall.
Hotels like the Fairmont are getting recognition right and it’s paying off. They are experiencing improved employee engagement by implementing employee recognition programs that encourage supervisor feedback and incorporate peer recognition too. As a result of its employee recognition strategy which includes its ‘Star of the Month’' recognition program and its ‘Bravo-grams', the Fairmont has transformed its entire company culture around employee appreciation and earned itself several awards for being a great place to work.
To implement a successful employee recognition program, you can look at implementing technology to streamline the process of giving recognition. Popular employee recognition platforms make it extremely easy for peers to recognize one another in timely, specific, and frequent ways which are necessary for recognition to work and motivate staff. Such software allows staff at any level of your organization to give thanks to another team member on any team. Anyone can thank another peer for day-to-day performance on the job like delighting a guest, managing a busy shift at the bar, or helping out another peer on a challenging day. Senior leaders can even use the program to recognize employees and thank them for their loyalty and tenure. The entire team can also use the platform to celebrate key events like work anniversaries and employee birthdays.
What’s more, upgrading your technology to support social recognition can leave much more of a positive impact. It can be a great opportunity to build connectivity, employee morale, community, and belonging in the workplace, all of which are factors that impact employees’ willingness to stay at your organization.
Unlike tech companies and public corporations with large budgets, you might not be able to offer stock options or expensive benefits packages to your staff. What you can do though, is offer meaningful micro-bonuses to reward employees. A proven way to make your employees feel appreciated and feel valued is to offer them a range of rewards so that employees can choose their own rewards.
Usually tied into employee recognition software, employee rewards software comes consolidated with a list of reward options you can offer your employees. They can choose from gift cards to their favourite retailers, unique adventure experiences, or even a bonus day off. The way that these platforms work is that they allow your staff to collect points whenever they are recognized for their performance, and then redeem those points depending on the rewards that they value. Rewards software like this can cost a fraction of what comprehensive benefit packages do but can go a long way in giving your workers the power of choice and offering such rewards as meaningful perks.
The hospitality industry still has a long way to go to recover from its labour shortages. Raising pay rates might not be enough to get talent through the door and compete with other industries, but looking into any of these 3 employee engagement initiatives might make a true difference for your bar, restaurant, or hotel.
Want to see how Bucketlist Rewards company recognition program can help you to boost employee engagement and reduce voluntary turnover? Contact us today for a free demo. We’d love to help you build a culture of appreciation!