Retention is a common concern for many skilled labor sectors — and the hospitality industry is no exception.
Over the last three years, we’ve seen an ongoing labor crisis hinder this otherwise booming sector. Other markets have not only regained the workers they lost in 2020, but have exceeded their pre-pandemic employment levels. Not only are hoteliers having difficulty sourcing talent, but they can’t get them to stay either.
Read on to learn four common reasons hospitality talents leave the industry, along with what you can do to improve your hotel’s retention rates.
Why is it so hard to keep great hospitality talent?
While a singular reason would be ideal, that simply isn’t the case when it comes to retaining great workers at hotels and resorts. Below are the most common reasons that hoteliers like you have difficulty keeping good workers.
Opportunities in other industries
First and foremost, there was a massive loss of jobs at the onset of the pandemic when many hospitality workers were let go — and they never chose to come back because of the prevalence of other opportunities. With remote work becoming more and more abundant or even working when it’s convenient to log into an app, there are increasingly more opportunities for top hospitality talent to find another role outside of a hotel. Despite leading the economy in job creation for September 2023, accommodation employment is still down 217,000 positions according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Lack of upward mobility
Let’s face it: there are only so many mid- and upper level management positions at each hotel, meaning that there are really only so many ways an employee can develop their career. You can cross train staff to perform in other departments if the need arises, but this likely won’t be enough to satisfy an itch for increased responsibility and pay. In our 2023 State of Hospitality Hiring Report, we asked survey takers what benefits, if any would, make them choose a lower paying offer within their desired salary range — and what we found was interesting. The second leading answer was career growth opportunities, with 37% of respondents indicating that would be the decision-maker for them.
Travelers may be on the move in droves, but the hospitality industry just doesn’t have the workers needed to meet demand. Hotels and resorts across the country are understaffed and overstretching their workers. Workers are forced to work longer hours or have more shifts, leading to increased levels of burnout and fatigue throughout the organization.
For the past year, it has seemed like every update on the Employment Situation indicated that wages were continuing to grow at an unstable pace. The hospitality industry was affected just as much as other sectors, but the current wages are still considerably low due to where they started. It can be hard as a hotelier to attract talent and stand out from other businesses hiring in your area if you can’t compete on wages.
Ways to keep staff at your resort
Given the variety of reasons why it’s so hard to keep good talent, there are just as many tactics that you can use to entice workers to stay with your brand.
Provide clear career pathways
First, consider showing your employees (both present and future) what a career in the hospitality industry at your brand would look like. Take the time to develop realistic career pathways for every position at your establishment and share this resource everywhere — on your career site, during onboarding, hang posters of sample paths in common areas where people congregate. You need to show folks where they can go within the industry to keep them on your team and tell them what goals they need to hit to move to their next position. By listing a few goals for every role, you’ll motivate your workers to be more productive overall while they’re trying to develop professionally.
Showcase what makes you special as an employer
The hospitality industry has innate perks and benefits that other industries simply can’t compete with. Hoteliers know better than anyone else how attractive traveling to a new destination is; after all, they’re in the business of lodging! Your workers want to travel just as much as the next person — and they can often do it at discounted rates within their resort brand. Whether your company offers discounted room rates, has partnered with other accommodation providers within regional networks, or can offer employees upgraded rooms if they choose to stay within your brand, this is a huge asset that can be marketed internally and externally to attract and maintain great teams.
Build a pipeline of talent
It can be hard to source the hospitality talent you need due to the larger problem at play here: the ongoing labor crisis. Continually hiring talent that doesn’t stay and training them to brand standards is a losing game for hoteliers. You’re constantly throwing money at an issue that simply isn’t going away. In order to keep great talent on your team, you’ll need to build a pipeline and network of talent so you always have people at your fingertips when you need to hire rather than starting a new search for every role. You can develop a database of previous employees and people who applied but weren’t hired to tap. Combine that directory with the network of your existing employees, and you have a powerful pipeline of talent to access and fill your open positions faster.
Appeal to the demographics of your ideal workers
Gen Zers are slowly making up more and more of the workforce — and they have wildly different expectations and perceptions of the hospitality industry. In order to appeal to these workers, you need to understand them to give them what they want from an employer. Based on our research, we know that Gen Zers will stay at an employer if they have the flexibility they desire, the opportunity for career growth they’re looking for, and a work culture that is inclusive and diverse. Make sure you’re developing your offerings around these key benefits to appeal to this group of the workforce.
The hospitality industry is not about serving, it’s about providing an experience. You can’t provide the quality experience you want for your guests without maintaining your team of quality people. Hoteliers need to provide an enjoyable experience for their workers if they want them to stick around in this labor crisis. While there’s no one reason why workers choose to leave this line of work, there are multiple tactics that owners and operators can use to attract and retain great talent.
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