How Not to Waste Recruitment Costs and Effort
By Caroline Cooper
The first few days in any job will create a lasting impression with any new employee and determine how well they do their job and whether they will want to stay with you. People like (and need) to know what's expected of them. So when people start with you, a thorough induction is absolutely key to ensuring you’re not wasting all the time, cost and effort you’ve put into recruiting the right person.
How soon after joining do new hires have to face guests?
The more thorough the induction you give your team, the quicker they’ll be up to speed and able to carry out their job effectively. This ensures a better customer experience, as well as putting less pressure on other team members. Training new starters on the information, guidance and skills they need for their job will give them confidence, and, in turn, will give you confidence in their ability to stand on their own two feet, leaving you or your managers to get on with other tasks.
Devoting the time and effort in new team members right from the start creates the right first impression that shows that their role is valued.
What do people need to know?
New hires need to know all of the standards for their job (and have these written down somewhere to ensure consistency). But there are other things as well. Yes, they need to know what their job is. Yes, they need to know about their holiday entitlement. Yes, they need to know about their pay, where they can leave their belongings, health, safety and hygiene procedures. All of those things are very important—but look a little bit beyond that.
Think about your own values and philosophy. What is the type of experience you want your guest to have when they stay with you? And communicate that to your staff.
Where does their job fit into the bigger picture? Where does their role fit in with everybody else's? What does everybody else do? What are all the other services and facilities that you provide? Staff can't upsell if they don’t know what you offer.
So if, for example, they are working reception, they need to know what a bedroom looks like and the distinction between a superior room and a standard room. They need to know about the menu offer. If they are in the kitchen, let them know what goes on front of house as well. Give them an opportunity to go into the restaurant, to see a room, and if you have other leisure facilities, let all your staff get a feel for them and experience them first hand.
I was recently conducting some training at a local hotel and all but one of my delegates had never even set foot in any of the meeting rooms, let alone experienced it from a guest or conference delegate’s perspective. If your staff is to have empathy with your guests, they need to have some experience from a guest’s viewpoint. Okay, they may not all be selling these things all of the time, but they need to have an idea of the bigger picture and what your guests will be experiencing.
Involving your team
Involve your team in the induction process. They know what's needed and in many cases will be more familiar with the practicalities of the role. However, ensure that one person has overall responsibility; ideally their immediate supervisor or manager should enable them to establish their authority and credibility.
Recognize that you or their line manager won't necessarily be there all the time to keep an eye on new starters, so allocate a buddy or someone they go to with ad hoc questions; someone to look over their shoulder; guide them and support them as necessary ensuring, of course, that this person will be patient and supportive when asked.
However don't fall into the trap of enabling them to pick up bad habits, so make sure whoever is involved with passing on their knowledge is working to the standards you want and expect from your team. We've already mentioned first impressions; don't let cynical or negative employees breed discontent before new starters have had an opportunity to make their own judgements.
You can't do it all at once
Avoid overloading new employees by giving them everything on day one. Prioritise what needs to be covered, and schedule this to take place over the first few weeks. Cover some of the material before they even start. Go through the job description so there are no surprises on day one, and aim to go through some of the contractual arrangements. This won't always be possible or practical, but the more that can be covered up front, the sooner you get the new employee working on the job.
Breakdown big topics such as food hygiene or health and safety. These are obviously important subjects, but they can be dry. Trying to cover everything in one session can be complete overload. Depending on their role, cover on day one the essentials, such as fire evacuation and personal hygiene, and then go into more detail over the coming days.
Build in time for reviewing, checking understanding and opportunities for them to check back and ask questions.
How to approach it
Induction, as with any training, needs to be two-way and interactive. Naturally there will be a lot of information to give about your venue, product information and so on, but ask for their views, feedback, comments, observations and recommendations.
Ensure you make the content relevant. Rather than just giving a list of procedures and standards, ensure you make it relevant to the job and bring it to life with examples. “What this means in reality……”. “You’ll see this happen when ……” “This will affect you when you …..”
When discussing standards and expectations, give reasons why they are important, and how they help them. If your way of doing something is different explain why you want it done that way; people are unlikely to adopt your approach unless they see a benefit such as saving time; it leads to more tips; it's safer; etc.
It’s more than chalk and talk
Strike a balance between what takes place in the training room and what happens on the job. Add variety to how you approach the different sessions and where they take place. Involve new starters in the customer journey; take them out to the car park and let them see what your guests see before they arrive. Go back a step further and see what's on your website, what's been in the press, anything your guests will see before, during or after their stay.
The best way to be introduced to other team members is to see them in their own working environment. When introducing new members to the housekeeping team, for example, take them around the hotel to meet existing staff members as they go about their daily chores. Not only does it give them the opportunity to meet people, but it starts to build teamwork by enabling them to see (and appreciate) what they their coworkers do, the relevance of their job, how it impacts them, and where to find them if need be.
So for the next person you take on, don’t waste your recruitment effort and costs by poor induction. Increase the likelihood they will want to stay, do the job to the standard you expect, and become a loyal employee by giving them a thorough induction.
Caroline Cooper is a business coach with over 25 years in business and management development. She is the founder of Zeal Coaching, specialising in working with hospitality businesses, and is author of the 'Hotel Success Handbook.'
Getting the most from your team is the theme of Caroline's new online leadership coaching program.