How To Improve the Employee Experience and Attract New Talent for Hotels

In August 2019 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rates were at 3.7% in the US for the third month in a row.

For people either looking for a new career or change their career, this is good news. With unemployment rates at unprecedented low levels, job seekers can afford to be picky about their next job. And employees can also put pressure on their current employer.

For the hotel industry, this brings on one of the biggest challenges in decades attracting and retaining talent.

This article was inspired by an article from The New York Times – Thriving Hotel Industry Scrambles for Workers.

I shared this article on LinkedIn where I posted the following question;

This is a time where hotels have to start to focus on value innovation #hoteltalent – What can hotels do today to take on the challenge of attracting new talent to the industry? # hiringtalent

The hotel industry is now facing a shortage of quality talent and skills. And there is high pressure on payroll costs.

And the demand for U.S. hotel room nights grew 2.5 percent year over year in 2018, compared with 2 percent growth in supply, according to STR. In raw numbers, a record 1.3 billion room nights sold in 2018, while the supply of room nights totaled more than 1.9 billion.

The hotel room supply is projected to increase during 2019.

Both from research and the ongoing discussion on LinkedIn the number one reason people leave or prefer other industries is the pay rate.

I believe it relates to pay rate, equal pay and the willingness to pay.

At the same time, research tells us that money alone is not enough to prevent turnover or attract new talent. People want a more meaningful job with increased responsibility.

With all focus on emerging technology, everyone has shifted their focus towards the customer experience.

But we mustn’t forget that the hotel industry is built on service excellence, and people is the most powerful competitive asset.

Hotels have start focus on solutions and alternatives.

We have seen data where labor costs account for around 90% of the rise in total operating expenses.

And hoteliers report owner expectations of high-profit margins and keeping variable costs low.

Reflecting over these challenges there need to be a cultural shift, else hotels will not be able to attract customer-centric candidates.

Hotels have over the years been digging themselves into a rabbit hole. The industry has spent more time hiring people than talent people that want to work for them. High turnovers are complex, but hotels need to be more proactive.

For starters, hotels should support the Raise the wage act that wants to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, and the Fair Pay Act that prohibits wage discrimination based on sex, race, or national origin among employees for work in “equivalent jobs”

Hotel owners will look at a pay increase in context with profit margins.

Here again, we look at data in relevant areas where there been an increase in the minimum wage. And these areas still experience an increase in its devolvement’s.

All these factors show us that hotels need to focus on value innovation in context with the employee experience.

Improve the employee experience

Employees are an intangible asset for hotels. And we see in today’s disruptive markets that often it is not tangible or fixed assets that differentiate brands, but it is the human factor.

Employees leaving hotels might be replaceable, but their talent, skill set, and knowledge cannot be exactly replaced.

Productive employees will always be the most valuable asset of a hotel.

I have always been as an advocate for employees inspiring them to learn from other departments and their management team. And we also need to flip this and inspire management to learn from their employees.

Be authentic and transparent, follow them around, have informal talks with them, interview them, and sit down with them in workshops. Discover the most pressing challenges and get their input on how to improve these.

Identify the micro-moments that matter. And work together on alternative solutions.

It is ironic that today with all the advanced technology available that time and resources are a challenge.

Much of this challenge lay in hotels not taking the opportunity to focus on improving employee’s talent and skills.

Several cost-effective frontline applications today provide employees easy access to valuable training and relevant information.

Focus on value innovation and employee happiness. Happy employees are 31% more productive and three times more productive than unhappy employees.

Every employee wants to know they are making a difference and achieving something meaningful.

The challenge of attracting and attaining talent is complex. And there is not a one size fit all solution.

But hotels have to start thinking outside the box today.

I believe the hotel industry has a lot to offer. Together we can start a movement and create a new culture that again will attract the best talents.

Increasing wages is one important shift. We also have to look at this in context with creating a more meaningful job and increased responsibility.

If your hotel doesn’t have the time and resources than take a deep breath and take one step backward to learn how you use new technology and tools.

Remember that cost-effective is a combination of two words – cost and effective.

Reward you’re your most valuable assets – your employees.

How is your hotel approaching of attracting new talent? Feel free to jump in on the ongoing LinkedIn discussion.


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As guest behavior and pattern continues to evolve, expectations will continue to rise. Navigating these changes can be challenging. Learn more about how we can help your Hotel.

About the author

Are Morch – Hotel Marketing Coach. I help make every experience count while improving online visibility and revenue for fast-growing hotels.

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