In the wake of the recent pandemic, many industries faced economic hardship with mass business closings, employee resignations, and layoffs. No industry was hit harder than the hospitality and leisure industry, which lost over half its workforce since March 2020.
According to the recent AHLA Midyear SOTI report, hotel occupancy is expected to approach pre-pandemic levels, averaging 63.4% by the end of 2022. However, hotels continue to face unprecedented post-pandemic challenges. 94% are understaffed, with 47% reportedly “severely understaffed”— a shortage acutely felt during summertime and the upcoming holiday season, when hotel occupancy is historically at its peak.
The current labor shortage in the industry demands innovative solutions to attract the new generation of hospitality workers. To address this challenge, hiring efforts must align strategically with a candidate’s ethics, skills, expectations of diversity and inclusion, and long-term career goals.
What the younger generations are looking for is careers
A career in hospitality has a lot to offer young, career-minded individuals with the skills to compete in today’s fast-paced, forward-thinking hospitality world.
According to Top Hotel News, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. Drawn to technological innovation and better work-life balance, they are more likely to invest their time in companies that invest in them. Millennials are also more likely to leave a job within the first two years if their career goals are not being met or their skills are not being developed to their full potential.
For the younger generation, Gen Z, job flexibility, company culture, and continued education and training factor heavily into their decision to accept a role. This can be an issue for hospitality as many potential employees may not view hospitality jobs as “real careers” or roles with much flexibility and growth.
The industry’s challenge is to reposition hospitality jobs as viable, long-term career opportunities with growth potential. The AHLA Foundation, for example, has made this shift in perspective a top priority, launching advertising campaigns that showcase the benefits of choosing a career in hospitality.
Strategies hoteliers should employ now to entice a younger generation
Studies show that 80% of Gen Z employees, followed closely by Millennials, want to be associated with an organization that aligns with their values, specifically one that makes building and fostering trust from team leaders a priority. Developing and communicating clear EVP (Employee Value Propositions) can help differentiate employers and illustrate ways their values align with jobseekers.
To speak to the next generation’s ambitions and future goals, consider implementing these strategies and then highlight them in job ads and during interviews:
Career development. Outline clear career pathways and provide consistent opportunities for goal setting, feedback, and evaluations to indicate that you value your employees and their professional growth. Consider a mentor program to pair new employees with seasoned managers to show the potential for future career progression.
Company culture. Providing opportunities to connect and collaborate can instill a sense of belonging and ensures employees feel proud and satisfied at their place of work. Selling the role as an exciting experience to immerse yourself in, rather than just a job, can help increase overall job satisfaction and performance and decrease employee turnover.
New technology roles. Like many industries post-pandemic, the hotel industry has expanded its use of technology and data. New roles, such as asset manager and content marketing specialist, appeal to technology-driven Gen Z and Millennials as viable career choices.
Your benefits package. Incentives over and above the standard compensation and benefits attract potential employees, especially when monetary compensation is limited. These incentives may include anything from sponsoring wellness programs or providing food and transportation discounts to providing robust education opportunities. Flexible schedules, same-day pay apps, and opportunities to work in other locations (if available) are also ways to attract candidates.
Soft skills. Position hotels as an ideal place where the next generation can develop and hone critical soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, empathy, collaboration, and time management. These valuable skills are vital for growth in hospitality careers but can also be leveraged in any industry to achieve professional success.
Training opportunities. Invest in management training programs to ensure newly-hired employees have the skills and resources needed to perform their jobs effectively. Many hotels offer training programs for entry-level positions and management, showcasing the potential for future growth.
The next steps to building a team of next-generation talent:
There is no singular, one-size-fits-all solution to employee shortages. Hiring managers must explore thoughtful, creative strategies to address the staffing shortages in the hospitality and leisure industry.
Today’s ambitious, educated, and socially conscious workers want job stability and long-term opportunities. But they also need a clearly defined career path with training and job growth at the forefront to entice them to stay long-term. Making it clear that the hospitality industry provides valuable careers is crucial to attracting qualified, dedicated employees that will stay the course and take pride in delivering a five-star guest experience.
As 2022 quickly comes to a close and hotels are refining their 2023 recruitment approaches, implementing these strategies can help to build a robust, next-generation talent pipeline to meet staffing demands in the coming year and well into the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sid Upadhyay is the CEO and Co-Founder of WizeHire, a leading hiring platform that helps small businesses grow with a better way to hire. Since 2014, WizeHire has focused on a future where small businesses can attract and win the same high level of talent as big companies. The hiring platform gives business owners an applicant tracking system, expert advice from dedicated hiring coaches, and recruiting resources like job ad templates and personality assessments to pre-screen candidates that save them time and money and help them hire the right candidate every time. Over 15,000 employers choose WizeHire as the trusted advisor to help grow their business.