It’s no secret that the hospitality industry has been understaffed since the beginning of the pandemic. The past few years saw over 70% of hotel staff in the United States and United Kingdom furloughed or laid off while hotels were closed. With more jobs offering flexible remote work than ever before, former staff are reluctant to return to physically demanding positions with rigid schedules.
The recent surge in “revenge travel” has been met with burnt out staff and slow service. Travel restrictions are being lifted around the world, drawing in even more tourists from abroad and more professionals to events. If hotels are to meet this demand, they need to incentivize people to work for them.
McKinsey & Company has found the biggest trends in hiring for the hospitality industry and developed a method for choosing the best employees. Prospective workers have high expectations—if hotels give them an offer they can’t refuse, meeting planners will reap the benefits of a smoother hospitality experience.
Technology Creates New Staff Roles
Thanks to the increase in digital booking platforms and hotel apps, many business and leisure guests prefer to check in online rather than with a receptionist. Some locations have gone as far as to install check in kiosks in their lobbies. Projects like this send staff from guest-focused roles to back-end support roles. Planners can expect a more automated lobby in the future, hopefully reducing delays.
People will need to be hired to design and manage these new customer-oriented technologies. Sure signs of a well-maintained online infrastructure are consistent updates and attentive customer support. Most brands have social media managers to keep the company in the public consciousness. Ad campaigns and posts bring properties to meeting planners’ attention.
AI is also gaining popularity in the hospitality world. Booking platforms and hotel apps use customer information like budget, preferences and needs allows it to generate vacation plans tailored to each guest or group. AI can add a personal touch to the impersonal automated check in, too, when it gives you recommendations and makes plans like a human concierge.
Though some are eager to return to working in person, some still prefer working from home. With the emergence of increased technology-based jobs, more people can work remotely. In fact, Forbes predicts that 25% of all jobs in the U.S. will be remote.
Hotels have started offering remote and hybrid jobs to draw more people to a position. Jobs that were formerly onsite can be modified to give staff more control over their schedules. You’ll be seeing fewer staff in hotels, staffing shortage or not. Roles that can be performed remotely include:
- Social media manager
- Event planning consultant
- Marketing and PR executives
- Customer support associate
- Concierge (with the appropriate infrastructure)
Positions like housekeeping and waitstaff will still be on location. Higher pay, benefits and flexibility will likely improve the quality of service they give you and your group.
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Chances for Career Growth
In short-staffed workplaces, employees are susceptible to burnout—especially in physically demanding roles. A 2021 study by Hartford found that 61% of employees were feeling the effects of burnout, most often expressed as exhaustion, irritability and cynicism. If you’ve had a bad experience with a hotel employee recently, they were probably doing the work of three with the hours of one.
The opportunity for upward mobility and new positions can keep staff motivated to do good work. Some may be trained to perform high-skill tasks on certain days. Housekeeping, waitstaff and reception also may rotate duties to minimize monotony.
Remember ESG During Hiring
When choosing who to work for, employees often assess a company’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). They want to be part of a company that respects its employees, supports social issues and takes care of the environment.
Hotels may hire dedicated staff to take care of some elements of ESG. A position overseeing the company’s climate impact, water usage and sustainability can improve the brand in the eye of a meeting planner. Kitchen managers might source local produce and meat to create an authentic culinary experience for guests.
Meanwhile, hiring managers are making a conscious effort to hire a diverse workforce. According to a study by McKinsey, diversity within a company can increase economic growth. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants is partnering with employment organizations such as Trans Can Work, The Mom Project and DirectEmployers Association so they can draw from a broad pool of applicants.
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The staffing situation seems dire, but by following these trends, the hospitality industry can meet the influx of business and leisure travelers from around the world. With solutions like these in play, more and more hotels are listening to customers’ and employees’ concerns. Staff with flexible schedules and career opportunities will be less susceptible to burnout and more motivated to provide good service.