[Survey Results] The Hospitality Industry Looking Forward
Hcareers / JANUARY 12 2021

We recently surveyed our audience about their thoughts about the recovery of the hospitality industry in 2021 and what they would like to see from employers moving forward. 

Below is a summary of the responses. Thank you to everyone who participated. 

The most recent unemployment report showed that we are still in an uncertain time for hospitality unemployment, unfortunately, the unemployment rate has increased by 1.3% in December after months of consistent decrease. 

Over 61% of our respondents answered that they expect an employment status change in 2021, with 23% saying that they were unsure and only 15% saying they were not expecting any changes. Granted, the changes could be a new opportunity or being let go or furloughed from their current job. 

56% of the respondents identified as being in a hotel management position, 18% corporate office positions, 13% said back of the house and 12% said front of the house positions. 

What are candidates and employees expecting

With the hospitality industry and employment still being uncertain at this time, many hospitality candidates and professionals are weighing out possible outcomes and options. 

65% of our respondents said they were likely to highly likely (38%) to look for a new job opportunity if their employers reduce hours until travel and bookings pick up again, with only 11% stating it is not likely they would look for a new job under those circumstances. So despite the job market uncertainty, employees would still prioritize their career and their needs. If companies have employees they want to keep right now, they need to weigh out all of their options before making any changes in employment situations, if possible. 

In contrast, if their employer reduces staff and they become overworked when travel and booking pick up, 54% are less likely to not likely (20.4%) to look for another job as opposed to those who are likely to highly likely (24.5%) to do so. 

50.8% of our respondents also said that if their property changes ownership or management companies, they would do everything they can to stay, and 39% would casually start looking for a new opportunity elsewhere. 

What 2021 will look like according to hospitality professionals 

Many of our respondents are expecting to see changes from training that employers offer, new ways of operating that will affect staffing levels and what types of positions are needed and of course, changes in wages. 

Respondents believe there will be a refocus on emphasizing quality service and product standards. The two main way they expect this to happen is through providing more training opportunities to increase customer service skills and to help create more civility in the workplace. 54.5% of our respondents mentioned that they would like their employers to provide opportunities to upgrade or refresh skills. Companies should also offer training to help employees know how to work with team members from various backgrounds and how to collaborate and communicate better. 

The more prepared and understanding your employees are with each other, the better the environment will be for both the employees and the guests. 

Many are also expecting companies to take a work smarter, not harder approach by hiring more sub-contractors or part-time workers to handle non-revenue tasks such as engineering, purchasing, or maintenance. Companies may also choose to add in more technology that will require less staff in positions, for example, digital check-in/check-out kiosks will require less front desk staff. 

Respondents also pointed out there that there will be a reduction in wages as companies try to make up for lost profits from 2020. We’ve already seen this taking place, but it will likely be a slow return to pre-COVID levels. There is also an expectation of high turnover rates in mid-level manager positions, due to high frustration and burning out quicker, and once there are more opportunities available many will look for “greener pastures.” 

Our respondents identified their top dealbreakers that they will be on the lookout for when returning to work or looking for new opportunities, so in order for hospitality companies to attract top talent or retain their employees, they should strategize to avoid these. The top four mentioned there; low pay (63%), unsanitary work environments (41%), having to work with difficult co-workers or management (36%), and offering subpar benefits (34%). 

The other dealbreakers mentioned were not having clear career advancement opportunities, asking for unrealistic skills or responsibilities, not having a flexible work environment, a lack of training opportunities, and overworking your employees. 

There are many factors that hospitality candidates and professionals will be taking into account as we move into 2021 and hopefully return to pre-COVID travel and bookings levels and companies begin to rehire or bringing back their workers to determine if a company and opportunity is right for them, and if companies want to bring in the top talent, then they need to take those into account to attract them and retain them. 

Even if you are not able to pay competitive wages immediately, consider balancing that out with great benefits, training and advancement opportunities, and a great work environment and culture that candidates are looking for.