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3 Workforce Trends Reshaping Hospitality Hiring Today

By integrating more efficient technology and processes, HR managers can help their hospitality businesses compete for top talent, retain more workers, and help make their worksites safer places for everyone.
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No one can deny that the past two years have been incredibly challenging — both on personal and organizational levels. In the business world, the hospitality sector was one of the hardest-hit by Covid-19. At the height of the pandemic, reports the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 48% of arts, entertainment, and recreation venues and 36% of accommodation, hotels, and food services establishments were subject to government-mandated closures. 

workforce hiring trends graph

Today, however, the hospitality sector appears to be on the slow path to recovery. As HR teams prepare for warmer months ahead in 2022, what workforce hiring trends do hospitality organizations need to address to keep the rebound on track?

"On-Again, Off-Again" Vaccine Mandates

As Covid-19 spread, managers' ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances was crucial to their business's success. That’s still true in 2022. Consider the issue of vaccine mandates. After the US Supreme Court blocked OSHA’s vaccine or mask-and-test mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees, OSHA then withdrew the emergency temporary standard (ETS). However, the ongoing threat posed by new variants of Covid-19, such as the recently-identified “stealth” omicron variant, means that vaccination discussions aren't likely to disappear completely. In fact, OSHA has signaled that the emergency measure was only a precursor to a coming proposal for a permanent health and safety standard.

Of course, hospitality companies are free to implement their own vaccination or test requirements. Some, such as organizations in destination cities like New York or San Francisco, may need such policies in order to comply with local mandates. SHRM suggests that “Employers should think about what policies will work best for their business model and culture and consider the tools they have available to combat the coronavirus, such as N95 masks, testing options, remote work, and physical distancing measures.”

Since the hospitality industry involves a substantial number of face-to-face interactions, health and disease prevention policies which put customer and employee safety first is crucial. At the same time, implementation can’t be so burdensome that it delays hiring. This is an area where technology can help. For example, there are software solutions that support both vaccination status tracking and weekly testing management. These tools are designed to be seamlessly incorporated into your hiring process, and also to meet internal or government mandates without losing hiring momentum—which leads to our next trend.

Competition for New Hires Intensifies

One year into the pandemic, reports the Wall Street Journal, nearly one-quarter of the hospitality workforce—roughly four million people—had been furloughed or laid-off. However, now that borders are reopening, leisure travel is on the rebound. Business travel is expected to climb too. As demand improves, hospitality organizations need to quickly fill employment gaps. It’s not going to be easy, though, since candidates today have plenty of opportunities to choose from.

Streamlining the hiring and onboarding workflow with technology gives hospitality employers a competitive edge. Not only can tech-enabled identity verification and background screening accelerate the process, allowing organizations to keep the hiring pipeline moving at a steady pace, it also provides employers with more confidence that they’re making smart, safe hiring decisions. Additionally, an efficient process helps ensure that organizations don’t lose qualified candidates who may be considering multiple job opportunities.

Re-Examining Retention Strategies in Light of the “Great Resignation”

Filling job openings isn’t the only consideration when it comes to the hospitality sector’s HR concerns. Keeping valued employees, especially when competition is so heated, is also a concern. The hospitality sector already experiences a high employee turnover rate approximately double that of other sectors. Just as some companies are using signing bonuses to attract candidates, other organizations are adjusting their benefit packages to keep current employees happy. However, while offers like this can help attract and retain workers, they're not a fix-all solution.

Hospitality organizations can benefit by examining other ways to encourage employees to continue their careers (for example by providing training options), so employees can see clear paths to advance within the organization. Technology can also support employee retention, whether it’s using scheduling dashboards to address a common pain point for employees or creating an online hub for idea-sharing and highlighting employee wins.


While the global pandemic has presented many serious challenges to hospitality companies struggling to stay in business, hope is slowly dawning in the form of growing hiring rates. However, in order to fully capitalize on this opportunity in 2022, HR teams should closely examine these emerging hiring trends. By integrating more efficient technology and processes, HR managers can help their hospitality businesses compete for top talent, retain more workers, and help make their worksites safer places for everyone.



Ken Schnee is the General Manager of the Technology, Media, Entertainment, and Hospitality group of Sterling, a provider of background and identity services. With over 10 years of experience in the talent industry, he brings extensive expertise in sales, operations, and technological innovation. Prior to his current role, Ken held several leadership posts at Sterling, including Regional Director of Sales, Vice President of Solution Consulting, and Head of Client Operations. Find him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit Sterling's website or call 1 800 899 2272 with any questions you may have.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.

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