For hospitality and leisure sector operators, one of the biggest challenges they currently face is recruiting and retaining workers. This is across all levels – from baristas and waiting staff to chefs and front-of-house managers. 

There are multiple reasons why employers are finding that skilled staff are in short supply. Initially, Brexit caused some workers to return to their homes in the EU. Then, during the pandemic, some workers in the sector switched careers in search of greater job security. Rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis put further pressure on operators and their employees. Workers who might have traditionally considered a career in hospitality and leisure are pursuing jobs in other sectors perceived as more reliable and that offer a better pay rate. 

The current trading conditions are challenging for employers, particularly when it comes to the battle for talent. This article offers practical guidance about building a winning employer brand, making it attractive to skilled workers and new entrants looking for a rewarding career path. 

Three key ways to attract talent

Create a talent development pipeline

When it comes to staffing recruitment, start early. Then, ensure that you have an active training and development programme that will attract potential recruits. Why not build a relationship with local schools, colleges or universities? The latter institutions may have an existing hospitality course. You could offer experience or internships to students who could form a career path with you. Alternatively, consider apprenticeships to develop a talent pipeline and seek government funding through the Apprenticeship Levy. 

Provide more than just a job

Workers today are looking for job satisfaction in many different areas. They want a long-term and rewarding career path and flexible options, such as working from home. Aim to understand what your employees want and help them to create a healthy work-life balance. Make them feel like they are part of your organisation by giving them a role in decision-making. As a result, they will think they are valued and contribute to the business's future. 

Offer more than just cash

What does your organisation offer, apart from a regular wage or salary? Think about crafting a remuneration package that can reward employees in other ways. You'll want to offer competitive wages without compromising the viability of the business but provide a meaningful benefits package as well. This package could include healthcare solutions, gym membership, childcare support, travel concessions and flexible working options. All this should help you strengthen staff loyalty. 

How your brand affects recruitment

Look inwardly and assess how your brand may affect any recruitment drive. Give particular emphasis to environmental, social and governance policies (ESG). For example: 

  • What does your company do to safeguard the environment? 
  • Do you have any published guidelines relating to climate change? 
  • Have you taken a stance on human rights or equality? 
  • Does your company ever make a statement about current events when they impact the local community? 

Also, ensure a robust governance structure, and avoid conflicts of interest or controversial decisions. 

If you pay close attention to these areas, your human resources department will be able to attract more employees to your strong organisation, and they will feel more connected. As a result, they are more likely to seek career growth opportunities within your company rather than looking elsewhere. In addition, new talent may value eco-friendly policies and strong social engagement.


Ways to retain top talent in tourism

Keep an eye on legislative changes affecting tips systems

Tips could be an important part of an employee's pay, so ensure you manage this process carefully. In particular, watch out for legislative changes, including the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill. 

Benchmark packages against those offered by competitors

Be aware of what's happening in your competitive environment. Keep up-to-date with what other companies offer in terms of pay and benefits. Then, if you benchmark your packages against those alternatives, you can keep up with prospective employee expectations. 

Be imaginative about employee benefits

Offer your employees meaningful employee benefits, such as mentioned above, but be creative and develop innovative ideas. For example: 

  • Suggest a holiday bonus, which they get to spend on a trip they choose during the year 
  • Consider a third-party service that can run errands for staff members while they are at work 
  • Start a bike share programme to give employees more options at lunchtime 

Offer a rewarding, long-term career path with plenty of training and development opportunities

Most importantly, show that your employees can enjoy a rewarding and long career if they stick with your organisation. So have a robust training programme and advertise new job opportunities internally before looking further afield. 

How to recruit and keep talent

While the hospitality industry outlook may be good, recruiting (and keeping) the best staff members can still be challenging. Consequently, you need to focus on attracting and retaining the best talent to ensure long-term success for your company. 

It should help to get professional support from a leading firm of accountants, finance and business advisers. At HLB, we have a hospitality sector, where we advise clients on all areas, from strategies to finance, recruitment and tax matters. If you'd like to discuss any of the issues raised in this report, HLB would be delighted to help. 


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