What can you do to attract the best people into your business?

The hospitality industry is facing a crisis of staff shortages, across all levels from part-time bar roles to management, with particular pain being felt in the kitchen with a scarcity of chefs. Ten years ago, if a business advertised a vacancy, they were guaranteed to receive a plethora of applications. Now applying candidates are minimal and often don’t have the relevant experience required.

In the NIHF Hotel Expansion Report July 2018 a shortage of at least 1500 people across the hotel sector was highlighted. If the current hotel expansion continues to hit the target of 10,000 hotel bedrooms by 2020 an additional 1,050 jobs will be created. On one hand we can be proud that our tourism economy is growing and thriving, but we urgently need the right people to fill the roles.

With unemployment in Northern Ireland at 3.5%, and many other sectors suffering their own staffing issues, this problem isn’t going away. So, what can you do to overcome the staffing difficulties facing the industry, now and in the coming years?

  1. Adopt a good company culture for your company, set goals which are communicated to your teams and collectively and actively work towards the company goals.

Look at your company values, working regimes, training policies and how you treat your employees. Is your company an organisation that you would choose to work for rather than the competitor up the road? Do you communicate with your employees, creating an open culture of communication, teamwork and loyalty?

  • Advertise to potential candidates in the same way that you advertise to your customers.

You need to sell your company as a great employer in a crowded market. Do you offer quality training, fair working schedules and holiday plans, a supportive management team or the opportunity to progress within the company? What is your unique selling point when it comes to attracting the best candidates?

  • Make sure you have professional recruitment procedures.

This may be the first point of contact for a candidate who may just turn out to be a fantastic addition to the team and someone who will remain with your company for years to come. However, they may choose not to come onboard if they don’t get the right impression of your company at this early stage.

  • Give your new employee a great, information packed induction

No one ever complained about knowing too much! Who’s who in the company, terms and conditions, job descriptions and management expectations – a good induction is invaluable to help a new employee get off the starting blocks.

  • Introduce on the job continuous training and development and communicate with your people

Regular department meetings catch up chats, a buddy up scheme and regular training are all ways to improve employee engagement and performance. Invest the time and money in your employees and they will return it 100%. Let them feel the love!

  • Recognise and reward great performance

There are many, many great individuals in the hospitality doing a fantastic job – after all we’re in this game because we have great personalities and love to look after our customers! Recognise this in your star employees, tell everyone else about them, thank them after a hard day’s work and give them the opportunity to progress if you can. Reward isn’t always about more money – it certainly helps, but positive feedback is also very valuable!

  • Manage non-performing employees effectively and quickly

Don’t get me wrong – not every employee is the right fit for your company. When you find someone who just isn’t doing the job, and continues to underperform after proper engagement, you need to move them along. Everyone knows the saying about the rotten apple in the barrel…….

  • When a great employee decides to leave your company accept their resignation with good grace, buy them a leaving present and wish them well.

No matter what you do, employees will move on, whether by choice or circumstance. It’s disappointing when a star employee chooses to move on but recognise what they have already done for you and wish them well. They will be an ambassador for you and your company and will recommend your company as a great place to work and you never know, they just might choose to come back at a later stage.

Nora Douds is the owner of Podd Consulting, which offers a range of business development programmes, training solutions and advice to the hospitality industry.