A year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped most business and commerce in its tracks. But certain sectors suffered greater loss, and for a longer time, than others – perhaps none more than the hospitality industry. Only now are we beginning to see a shift in attitudes and balance sheets, as more people find it safe to travel again.
As summer approaches, the industry is preparing for a surge in vacationers and those eager for their first taste of post-pandemic freedom to re-engage with the public. Many HR leaders in the hospitality field aren’t yet prepared for the anticipated wave. Increasing demand is a good problem to have, of course. But to take advantage of the welcomed pendulum swing, hospitality brands will need to ask themselves several key questions, answering each while considering the context of their business’ own unique circumstances.
What should we prioritize first?
Easy: flexibility. Given the uncertainty surrounding the shape and strength of the recovery – not to mention the risks posed by coronavirus variants and the resulting spikes in infection rates – HR leaders in the hospitality industry should focus on achieving the flexibility to expand or contract their workforce based on ever-changing needs. A sector already heavily influenced by seasonal and other industry-specific demands will have to be more nimble than ever in the months, and perhaps years, to come.
Why have hospitality brands turned to contract labor? How has this changed in recent years and where is this trend headed?
Even in a strong economy, when consumer confidence is at its highest, the industry is cyclical in nature. But hospitality brands take a hit when the market is uncertain and in times of public health emergencies – meaning the industry has likely never seen a more volatile moment in modern times than the one it suffered through the past 12-16 months. Because contractors are a flexible resource, hospitality hiring managers are increasingly turning to them to provide the leeway to match expenses to revenue within current market conditions.
How do contract workers fit into our business?
Contractors are being used in a wide variety of business units – from information technology (program managers, project managers, systems engineers, technical writers) to finance and accounting (financial analysts, revenue managers, business analysts) to marketing (marketing analysts, leads) to human resources (onboarding coordinators). Organizational demands on those departments may vary greatly depending on seasonal timing and the strength of the market, and contract workers give companies the flexibility to match their workforce (and its associated expense) with the needs of the moment.
How can technology be leveraged to prepare for the comeback of travel?
Broadly, and not only in the hospitality industry, companies are anticipating a mass hiring wave, which will be required to cover staffing needs associated with the resurgence of travel. The ability to quickly build talent pipelines will be crucial for many businesses, and a digital talent marketplace will often have the tools to help properly source and connect companies with qualified contractors to fill their fluctuating needs.
What’s next for innovation in HR for hospitality brands? How might this drive broader innovation across business practices?
Human resources departments must become more nimble than ever. The war for talent had been in full force well before the pandemic, and as the hospitality industry resurges, it can only be expected to intensify. HR will need to use technology for sourcing and screening talent efficiently, as well as – and perhaps more importantly – for differentiating your employer during the recruitment process and building relationships that lead to attractive candidates choosing you. That process is a difficult one, even for larger brands with extensive resources.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Rowley is the COO & CTO of PeopleCaddie, a digital talent network for highly-skilled contractors. Previously, Tim served as the SVP, e-Commerce Marketing at Bank of America, where he worked to grow online sales and the online banking user base. Through that experience in changing consumer behaviors to leverage new technology, Tim saw a parallel opportunity in the contingent labor market. PeopleCaddie works with businesses in a variety of industries, matching employers with fully-vetted, professional contractors as well as helping workers leverage their specialized skill-sets into attractive contract work opportunities.