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December BLS Jobs Report: Hospitality Focus

The December Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report showed continued signs of an uneven recovery as we round out 2021. Employers added a mere 199,000 new jobs in December — less than half what experts predicted. Businesses in the leisure and hospitality space led the growth this month, with 53,000 gains.

It should come as no surprise that hospitality businesses led in job growth again in December. This industry lost the most with the original COVID-19 outbreak, which means you have the most to gain. However, those gains can and should be higher. Consumer demand for hospitality has soared, while workers in this space have resigned, explored different opportunities, and demanded more from their employers. 

At the same time, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% in December. This means that most of the folks who can and want to work, are able to. In fact, experts estimate that there are two unemployed workers for every three job openings. Of course this is a great thing for many of those who experienced pandemic-related job losses. But for employers — especially those in the hospitality space — it’s a challenge. 

Adding even more competition to employers in the hospitality space is that many of the options today’s best job seekers are exploring are careers that offer perks like remote work, health insurance, higher pay, and more. So what can you do to attract talent and build your best team in 2022 despite the odds? The key is investing in your HR function rather than viewing it as a cost center. Here’s our advice:

Stop relying on job boards alone

Given that folks have plenty of options for employment, your target audience isn’t spending their day scouring job boards. Instead they’re on social media, they’re working online, and they’re out in their communities. So why not reach them there? Think like a marketer and communicate your unique offerings on channels that matter. We’ve seen customers have success with TikTok, billboards, display ads, and perhaps most effectively, word-of-mouth through your own employees.

Breathe new life into your employee referral program

In the hospitality space, qualified talent is much more likely to apply to roles that they hear about through trusted friends and acquaintances. So if you don’t already have an employee referral program in place it’s time to start one now. If you do, chances are it’s in need of a refresh. Think outside the box when it comes to promoting your program internally and motivating folks to participate. One approach many Hireology customers have found success with is gamifying their program and tapping into their employees’ competitive side. This might include creating a public leaderboard to promote competition or rewarding your top performers with additional cash bonuses.

Start texting recruits

If you’re still cold calling or emailing your target recruits, you’re not going to see results in 2022. Today’s job seekers are younger, they’re more tech savvy, and they’re just not going to answer the phone to an unknown number. But they will think twice about a text. Texting cuts through the clutter of email inboxes and makes it significantly easier for them to respond. And even if they don’t respond right away, they’ll remember the name of your company for future opportunities.

Eliminate job applications altogether

Job seekers in the hospitality space are also much less likely to spend time completing traditional job applications. Keep the process moving fast and make it easier for job seekers by eliminating applications altogether. Instead, have a conversation with your recruits and interested applicants via text or on a quick phone call. And use reference checks to verify employment later on. This modernizes your process and keeps it more personal, which is attractive to job seekers who are younger and newer to the workforce.

Compete on more than just pay

Offering higher wages is table stakes these days. You need to find ways to stand out beyond it. Job seekers in the hospitality space have heightened expectations from their employers and they have the leverage to get what they want. So in addition to offering higher pay, you have to provide (and effectively market) perks that will draw folks into the hospitality space and away from office type jobs that offer remote work. Think: benefits packages that include health insurance, scheduling flexibility, sick days (this is particularly important during COVID-19 outbreaks), and career progression.

As we head into a new year, we’re still seeing many of the same patterns we saw in 2021. While the economy slowly recovers, a large group of the hospitality workers who left the workforce in 2020 have yet to return. And it puts you in a difficult position as an employer. The key is to continue to build your foundation of recruiting tactics that will pay off in the long run — such as great employer branding, modern candidate communication, and improved employee referral programs.

Don’t do it alone. Hireology is here to help. Schedule a free demo today to learn about how our all-in-one recruiting and hiring platform can help you navigate today’s hiring challenges.

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