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Viewpoint: It’s time to hire smart

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Viewpoint: It’s time to hire smart

With the current industry staffing crisis, operators need to think innovatively and look to technology for a sustainable workforce. Peter Willis explains

According to the latest statistics from YouGov, 42% of new employees joining the hospitality industry leave their jobs in the first 90 days. Historically, our industry has employed a young workforce, however, with current demographic changes due to a diminishing working age population, this is no longer a sustainable strategy: by 2020 we will have 670,000 fewer 16- to 25-year-olds. So, what can we do as an industry to ensure we retain and nurture our current pool of talent, while attracting not only the next generation but also our future hospitality workforce?

Firstly, let’s look at the main issues from an employee’s perspective. The perception is that working hours are long and anti-social, plus schedules are inflexible and don’t fit around lifestyles. In addition, pay is considered low and the common view is that there is a lack of career progression.

Operators need to start broadening their talent pool. We not only search for prospective talent from within our industry, but we are also a funding partner of Only A Pavement Away – a charity that helps the homeless, ex-service personnel, ex-offenders and those with learning difficulties to find a job within hospitality.

Savvy operators are recruiting people who fit the personality of their brands – this is all about hiring the right attitude. I attended a conference towards the end of last year, where Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder of Caravan, delivered a brilliant and thought-provoking presentation on her team called the “51%ers”. Caravan recruits people with the same passion and values as the brand and then teaches them the necessary skills to do their job. This attitude ensures staff grow, feel part of and stay true to a brand.

Using technology to recruit intelligently will be critical to our future. Intelligent learning software also means operators can utilise scheduling systems that can remember employee shift preferences, while also enabling that all-important shift swap.

We live in an age of mobile phones. Today’s smart technology means that it is possible to make the recruitment process entirely mobile-friendly. Tools such as instant chat and interview schedulers that connect to calendars give general managers valuable control of their site recruitment, while still having oversight of the process.

Operators need to develop innovative ways for candidates to engage with their brand. Think outside traditional job boards and step into the world of video and social media applications. Today, it is possible to have digital ‘refer a friend’ schemes that not only reward and celebrate employees as brand advocates, but also give operators access to an invaluable new talent stream, who might otherwise have not been considering a job within hospitality.

A leading UK pub operator has recently quoted that those employees hired through ‘refer a friend’ are 80% more likely to remain with the brand for more than a year.

To win the war on talent, operators need to remember that business performance is driven by employee performance, and those who invest in their people will be the ones reaping the benefits.

Peter Willis is managing director at Harri



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