How Hospitality Employers Can Help Workers Recover from Long-Term Unemployment

Using technology for training, providing early access to wages, and offering flexible scheduling are all tools hospitality companies can offer.
a person standing in front of a computer

As of September 2021, 34% of unemployed Americans have been without work for at least 27 weeks — what the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics defines as “long-term unemployment.” Many of these individuals now have piles of bills and debts to pay off, and unfortunately, the one-time signing bonus many frontline jobs are beginning to offer isn’t enough to recover.

With job openings in hospitality on the rise, people will be more easily able to find employment or return to their old jobs at hotels, restaurants, and travel companies. However, long-term unemployment causes financial and emotional strain, and returning to work isn’t always an easy process. Those who have been without a job need employers that can provide financial stability, flexibility, and the right tools to get their jobs done effectively.

Long-term unemployment hinders a lasting recovery

Leisure and hospitality businesses were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic — the sector laid off more than 3.6 million workers in 2020. Millions of people claimed unemployment benefits during this period, but extended pandemic federal benefits ended in early September 2021. This has left many people unable to pay bills and savings accounts depleted, resulting in lower credit scores and financial hardship.

In addition to bills, debts and mortgages to pay, long-term unemployment often causes psychological challenges including low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, and fears of repeating past job mistakes. These concerns can carry over to subsequent jobs and make returning to work difficult for many. In fact, people are more likely to leave the workforce indefinitely after six months of unemployment.

It also doesn’t help that employers sometimes overlook qualified applicants due to employment gaps on their resumes. But in reality, long-term unemployed applicants may be willing to start sooner or relocate for a job, making them strong candidates for positions that are typically difficult to fill. Hiring long-term unemployed candidates can also be beneficial to organizations because it reduces overall unemployment in their surrounding communities. Additionally, organizations can work with government agencies that help unemployed people find work, reducing recruiting efforts and costs.

3 ways you can help long-term unemployed talent succeed

So, you’ve found a qualified candidate to work at your hotel, restaurant, or travel company. Great job. Now, to ensure they succeed, you need to provide them with the flexibility and stability to recover from long-term unemployment as well as sufficient onboarding and training.

Specifically, here are three things you can do to empower your employees to succeed in their new roles and recover from long-term unemployment.

  1. Train employees with digital workplace technology. Strong onboarding processes can improve new hire retention by 82% and save your organization time and money, so it’s critical to provide employees with the right resources and trainings. Using a digital workplace platform enables you to centralize training tools, which makes it easier for employees to access modules from their mobile devices. 

    You can even offer badges to employees for completing different modules to create a more engaging experience. And if your business has multiple locations, you can create a more flexible workforce by standardizing training. With standardized training, employees can easily switch between locations to pick up additional shifts.
  2. Provide early access to wages. Although your ability to provide higher wages may be limited, a digital workplace allows you to offer employees early access to earned wages. Equipping workers with early access to a percentage of their paycheck (with zero fees) can financially empower them to pay off urgent debts. This benefit acts as a strong motivating factor that ensures shift coverage, improving labor utilization. Studies prove that debt is linked to stress and anxiety, so helping employees pay off bills can reduce stress and improve their job performance.
  3. Offer flexible scheduling. It can be difficult to distinguish a common cold from COVID-19 — and going into work sick is a risk no one should have to take. But for someone overwhelmed with debt, they might feel like going to work with a runny nose is their only option. Offering your employees the ability to seamlessly swap shifts protects their income, reduces financial stress, and promotes wellness in the workplace.

Given the current hospitality labor shortage, you can’t afford to overlook job candidates with employment gaps on their resumes. Instead, equip them with the digital tools and flexibility they need to recover from long-term unemployment. In addition to adequately staffing your business, you’ll improve processes and efficiencies — and create a happier and more engaged workforce.