Redefining Today's Hospitality Workforce
During HX: The Hotel Experience 2018 at New York City’s Javits Center, HCareers CEO Ron Mitchell took part in the panel discussion Redefining Today’s Hospitality Workforce and Cultivating Tomorrow’s Team.
Along with co-panelists Audrey Williams-Lee, vice president, corporate human resources and global philanthropy at Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Heather Berti, corporate director of people services at Arlo Hotels and moderator Valerie Ferguson, regional general manager, resort operations at Walt Disney Company, Mitchell discussed how employers must respond to a tight labor market where continuously rising costs are impacting revenues. Here are six highlights from the conversation:
The balance of power has shifted. Mitchell explained that because of low unemployment, job seekers now hold more of the cards. This both works in their favor as well as to their disadvantage. “Recruiters should be thinking more bout the experience of the job seeker and how to build a relationship with them as well as how to brand that experience,” Mitchell noted. However, he also noted that challenges in the hiring market are leading to greater innovation as employers become more willing to embrace robotics, which could lead to technology replacing the human service experience because the hiring environment is so challenging.
Know your audience. Williams-Lee advised employers to know what attracts younger employees and pointed out that “purpose is really important.” Employers with corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs should showcase them in the recruitment and hiring processes. Berti, too, felt that understanding employee demographics as well as what’s important to them outside of the workplace is essential to hiring and retention.
Incorporate technology into the recruiting and hiring experience. Williams-Lee also attested to the fact that Hyatt is currently looking at how technology can drive efficiency and quality in the recruiting and hiring processes. “We’re looking at ways to reduce the recruiting cycle, but also to make sure candidates are having the experience that we want them to have,” she said. Mitchell also weighed in on how technology can accelerate the hiring process, commenting that “technology allows us to engage people in a casual, contextual and conversational way.” He added that by incorporating questions like ‘how important is a flexible work schedule to you?’ into the job search process and then serving up relevant positions within job seekers’ geographic search parameters can help streamline the process.
Leverage technology for training purposes. Berti acknowledged the effectiveness of in-person training: “We want to captivate team members and share the warmth of the brand with them, but still remain in compliance,” she said. Williams-Lee also pointed out that it’s not always an efficient strategy to carry out at scale. So Hyatt has created a seven-week webinar series of training for new hires. “People around the country go through it at the same time and we have a facilitator so people can feel a connection,” she added.
Build a diverse workforce. Mitchell pointed out that hotel guests want employees to mirror their diversity and because hospitality is a service industry, the businesses that deliver on this demand will see financial benefits. “African Americans are 20 percent more likely to be interested in hospitality and Latinos, 10 percent more likely,” he said. According to Williams-Lee, Hyatt is projecting what its workforce will look like in the next five to seven years based on current hiring patterns in order to progress people of color and women up the ladder. “We’re looking at how inclusive our company is on the regional and corporate levels,” she said. “You can get very familiar and comfortable with people you know, but we want to make sure a wide range of diverse employees are going through our hotels.”
Training programs drive retention. Berti called attention to the fact that management training programs can not only elevate employees to the next level within the company, but they also help with retention. Williams-Lee also pointed out that internship programs that allow for cross-training, so that potential employees can experience a range of positions from housekeeping to front desk agents, also play a role in maintaining employees and thus, reducing investment in recruitment and hiring. “Implementing programs like this allow our team members to grow and hopefully, allows us to retain them,” she said.