HR is no longer the soft option

26 October 2006
HR is no longer the soft option

Human resources (HR) is shaking off its "soft and fluffy" image within the hospitality sector to earn the respect of line managers, exclusive research has revealed.

Caterer‘s sister publication Personnel Today surveyed nearly 2,000 line managers across eight business sectors on their views about HR. The survey showed that hospitality rates HR more highly than every other industry for its work in recruitment, disciplinary and grievance matters, performance management and succession planning.

Hospitality was also the most positive sector in terms of valuing HR's contribution to the business. It rated HR higher than any other sector on almost all key metrics, including: adding value to the business; helping managers do their jobs; knowledge of employment law; and understanding the organisation's needs.

Some 36% of line managers working in hospitality believe their HR department offers good value for money, compared with the all-sector average of 31%.

Gavin Wetton, HR director of tapas restaurant chain La Tasca - one of this year's winners in Caterer‘s Best Places to Work in Hospitality Awards - said communication and flexibility are the keys to successful HR practice. "It is all about ensuring people understand what's in it for them. It is crucial to be able to apply this to your best practice," he said. "If you are committed to doing things in the right way, you have to be flexible in how you implement things."

Wetton admitted that performance management - an area in which HR was weak in the survey - is harder to tackle in hospitality because of high employee turnover and a large number of junior managers.

"There are some businesses in hospitality that can be quite reactive on things such as appraisal, so, again, you need to explain to people what the benefits are from having a good appraisal system," he said.

There is also a need for more information on HR strategy, according to Wetton. "In hospitality, one thing we could do is more benchmarking, either through Investors in People or through external awards, so we are better able to emulate best practice," he said.

Extension for best places to work in hospitality awards

The closing date for entry to Caterer‘s Best Places to Work in Hospitality Awards 2007 has been extended
by a week to 7 November due to unprecedented demand.

The awards, now in their second year and backed by recruitment specialists the People Tree, highlight and reward employment best practice in the UK's hospitality industry.

To enter go to and complete the application form.

By Rob Willock

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