The leisure and hospitality industry has faced significant challenges in recent times, with the accommodation sector being among the most affected. Although job openings are abundant, companies are struggling to fill positions – and the hospitality industry has been gradually recovering from the challenges posed by the pandemic.
As of April 2023, the unemployment rate in the hospitality sector stands at 5%, indicating a positive trend in job opportunities. Over the past six months, the industry has added an average of 73,000 jobs per month, indicating a gradual recovery. Also, according to Snagajob, 91% of workers surveyed are currently looking for a job.
However, despite this positive momentum, it's important to note that employment in the leisure and hospitality industry still lags behind its pre-pandemic levels. There is a deficit of 402,000 jobs, accounting for a 2.4 percent shortfall from the industry's February 2020 levels. Nonetheless, industry leaders remain optimistic about the future.
Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide, highlights the sustained strength and growth by sharing, “We don’t see leisure slowing down. On the business-transient side, there’s still strong and growing demand, even pent-up demand. And on the group side, we finished the second half of last year with people getting more comfortable and planning events like crazy. The economics of supply and demand are just really good.”
Read on to delve into the challenges faced by the hospitality industry, specifically the reasons behind the reluctance of individuals to work in hotels, and discuss strategies to attract and retain talent. By addressing these obstacles head-on, companies can capitalize on the industry's upward trajectory and position themselves for success in a recovering job market.
The hospitality sector has experienced a considerable gap between its pre-pandemic state and its current situation. While there are plenty of job opportunities, companies are finding it difficult to fill these positions. These jobs include positions in food service, maintenance, guest services, engineering and facilities, housekeeping, spa, fitness, golf course operations, and more – which give job seekers the ability to find a role that matches their career and personal interests.
So why are people hesitant to work in hotels? Years of underpayment and inadequate benefits have led potential candidates and employees to have outdated reputations on these roles and to seek opportunities elsewhere. This has left employers feeling the pain of labor shortages, as many individuals are reluctant to return to the industry due to past negative experiences.
Employers are feeling the pain now, meaning there’s much work to do within branding and recruitment.
The hospitality industry has witnessed a significant increase in employees leaving their jobs during the pandemic. This surge in "job quits" has posed a challenge for companies in terms of hiring additional workers to fill the gaps. With numerous job options available, retaining talent has become crucial. Studies indicate that 82% of employees consider a lack of progression in their roles as a deciding factor in their decision to leave. Also, without a well-defined trajectory, job seekers (Gen Z in particular) are more likely to not apply to the role at the company at all.
To address this, employers need to establish clear career paths for their employees and provide opportunities for growth and development. By setting employees on a path that aligns with their aspirations and demonstrating a commitment to their professional advancement, companies can make employees feel valued and build trust in their organization's dedication to their growth, ultimately reducing turnover rates. This can also help employers instill confidence in potential candidates and demonstrate that hotels offer more than just entry-level positions.
With the changing dynamics of the job market and the increased awareness among candidates, companies in the hospitality industry must reevaluate and revamp their EVP and employer branding strategies. What may have worked in the past may no longer be effective in attracting and retaining top talent. This is why companies need to adapt and update their EVP and EB to align with candidates' current expectations and needs.
Unfortunately, some companies have not made necessary adjustments, even throughout the pandemic, putting them at a significant disadvantage. However, it's not too late to take action. Taking time to proactively revamp the EVP and EB strategies to showcase the benefits can establish companies as desirable employers. With this, they can regain their competitive edge and attract talented individuals who are seeking opportunities in the evolving job market.
To attract and retain talented workers in the hospitality industry, companies need to implement creative strategies and prioritize fostering an employer brand that focuses on employee well-being. One approach is to organize more employee bonding days to foster strong relationships among coworkers. By creating opportunities for team building and camaraderie, employees feel more connected to their colleagues, which can enhance job satisfaction and productivity.
Recognizing the importance of employee well-being, companies should also offer services that promote mental and physical wellness. A Limeade survey revealed that 40% of employees left their jobs due to burnout and feeling unappreciated. Addressing these concerns through a supportive and appreciative work culture is crucial for retaining top talent. Implementing wellness programs and providing resources to manage stress and improve overall health can contribute to a positive work environment and increase employee satisfaction.
Another important aspect is providing access to mentors or trusted leaders within the organization. Mentors can offer guidance, support, and valuable insights to help employees navigate their careers and reach their full potential. Having a mentorship program in place demonstrates a commitment to employee growth and development.
In line with the values of the socially conscious Gen Z workforce, embedding a social mission or cause within the company structure can be a powerful way to attract and engage employees (aka aligning with the values of job seekers). Supporting a cause or community initiative creates a positive impact and resonates with individuals passionate about making a difference.
Using data analytics and employee feedback tools can help identify trends and understand the specific needs and desires of the workforce. By tailoring benefits and policies accordingly, companies can create a work environment that meets individual employee needs without significantly increasing costs.
Tip: Having an analytics platform is beneficial. This allows hiring professionals to see trends, then implement other strategies (such as surveys) to get a pulse of the current employees and accommodate plans to their needs and wants.
By actively promoting their brand, showcasing career paths, and offering competitive compensation and benefits, hotels can position themselves as desirable employers.
In the hotel world, there’s a dynamic between the parent company and the hotel branch/subsidiaries. The separations and distinctions between the two may be clear on the corporate end, but maybe it isn’t from an outside perspective. For example, if a job seeker goes online to apply for a role, is the candidate aware of which subsidiary they are applying to? Are they aware the subsidiary has a parent company? Are both companies clearly communicated?
Many job seekers are looking for opportunities that align not only with the benefits they’re seeking, but their personal values. They’re paying more attention to brands and who they are and are being more discerning in their searches. This is why job seekers need to understand the parent company, its subsidiaries, and its values to ensure alignment with their own. Effective showcasing of this connection can greatly impact the candidate's perception of the company and the experience they have.Tip: Create candidate personas to understand the target audiences better. This way, talent acquisition professionals can take stock of how the offerings (ex: EVP) meet the expectations of job seekers. Having this personalization and tailoring communications to each persona leads to attracting higher quality candidates and an increased ROI.
Employers should make it clear within their applicant tracking system (ATS) and job postings which brand or company the employee will be working for. Ambiguous branding can lead to confusion and uncertainty for applicants, potentially resulting in a poor candidate experience. To overcome this, companies must ensure that every step of the hiring process, from job descriptions to onboarding materials, clearly communicates the distinct qualities and uniqueness of the brand.
Outside of the application process, look at how the company is advertised or showcased online. From Google ads to social media platforms, candidates can learn about and interact with the company in many ways. If all outward-facing content is clear and connected, the more likely it is to pique the interest of candidates – since the more a company can establish itself, the better chance of hiring top talent. However, if the content isn’t aligned or uses different branding (ex: if the logo is different, brand colors aren’t adhered to, fonts change, etc.), audiences might get confused as to who they’re interacting with.
Also, positivity breeds positivity – meaning a positive experience is a great motivating factor and can increase employee productivity. This is why fostering a strong brand can help with an employer’s reputation and, in turn, attract more quality candidates.
Tip: 77% of candidates who have a positive candidate experience will share it with their networks, showcasing how
The long-term success of the hospitality industry hinges on its capacity to embrace, adjust, and adapt. As the hospitality industry continues to recover, hiring professionals must address the challenges of attracting and retaining talent. By focusing on career pathing, updating EVP and EB strategies, and improving brand clarity, hotels can differentiate themselves and entice candidates with promising futures. Having plans in place to revamp strategies and take action when ready will help companies thrive in the evolving job market and secure top talent for the summer season and beyond.
If your talent acquisition team is looking to supercharge and revamp their hospitality recruitment efforts, reach out to us! The team at Recruitics is revolutionizing the way to find, attract, and convert top talent. With the help of our industry-leading iONTM Platform, we can leverage real-time data to pivot, innovate, and collaborate to help you become more precise, intuitive, and efficient.
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