Changing the perception of hospitality, increasing training and support for middle managers and greater engagement with educational establishments will be required if the hospitality industry is to tackle the staffing crisis.
A round table hosted by Springboard and Gig, the online platform for flexible shift work, held at Kensington's Ampersand hotel saw industry leaders debate how operators can attract and keep more people in the industry, earlier this week.
At the end of the conversation a list of key actions was drawn up, at the top of which was changing the perception of the industry with the wider public. It was agreed that the language used when discussing the industry must be altered to stress the opportunities it presents rather than challenges.
Chris Sprague, a former managing director of Elior and Springboard trustee, said: "It's a family, that's the message we do not get out. It's a really nice place to work and people look after you."
Other suggestions included stressing flexibility and ‘not your normal nine to five', the development of transferable soft skills, and the performative aspects of hospitality roles.
David Kreysa, head of talent for Ennismore, stressed that the opportunities for challenging the perceptions held by those outside the industry would be greater if businesses worked together.
He said: "If we have a powerful message and if we pull together, we can do things we could not do otherwise."
The roundtable felt that if a coalition or campaign could be formed across the industry, it may be possible to develop advertising of the type used to recruit teaching staff.
The panel also felt that investment was needed to support and train middle managers to establish cultures and working practises that could be embedded across organisations and passed on to the next generation.
This included supporting managers to hire on the basis of their potential and then train them to reach it. Janene Pretorius, director of people at the Ivy Collection, said: "We had to do a lot of work with our older generation of managers to change their perceptions about taking people without a CV that has lots of experience. Alongside that we've embedded a training academy and given them all the tools to train."
Pretorius also emphasised the importance of getting the small things right in staff retention, explaining that the leadership team of the Ivy Collection had met with panels of its staff across all levels and found most had said receiving rotas further in advance was the most important thing to them.
The panel also highlighted the need to engage with schools, universities and colleges in a positive way. Lisa Wyld, head of hospitality and tourism at the University of East London, explained: "It's really hard to get the industry to engage with colleges and when we do secure guest speakers rather than selling it and saying this is where I started and where I am now, they often dwell on negatives saying yes it's really hard and you will have to do that too."
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